To address the enormous deficiencies in quality of health care, health care organizations need to make a business care for improvement. That is, they need to demonstrate a compelling rationale for the significant financial investments necessary to improve quality and reduce medical errors.

To make decisions, businesses traditionally look at the potential return on investment (ROI). However, ROI projections are tough to make in health care. Data sources are limited and decision support tools are often outdated or nonexistent. Most health services research is purely academic, offering no actionable or timely advice to decision makers. The fragmented delivery system means that organizations that invest in performance improvement benefit other players more than themselves. Finally and most critically, incentives are terribly misaligned. Providers are paid for how much they do, not how well they do it. When patient care improves and medical mistakes decline, provider revenues can drop like a stone.

The savvy folks at Bailit Health Purchasing LLC offer a new framework for building a business care to invest in quality improvement. In an excellent new issue brief published by The Commonwealth Fund, Michael Bailit, MBA and Mary Beth Dyer, MPP provide