The New Frontier in Surgical Quality Measures

By Office of the President | Mar 5, 2024

Dr. Kougias and Dr. Sharath

From left to right:
Panos Kougias, M.D., M.Sc., Sherene Sharath, Ph.D., MPH

Congratulations to Panos Kougias, M.D., M.Sc., Chair of Surgery, and Sherene Sharath, Ph.D., MPH, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, on the publication of their thoughtful and multi-faceted Invited Commentary in a recent issue of JAMA Surgery.

Dr. Kougias is passionate about providing personalized, high-quality surgical care and addressing complex clinical and health policy problems with durable, evidence-based solutions. Dr. Sharath is an expert on assessing postoperative risks, with sources ranging from underlying pathologies, behaviors, and social determinants. She has experience expertise in managing and analyzing ‘big data,’ with datasets typically consisting of millions of observations. 

In the field of surgery, continuous quality improvement through clinical care assessment is crucial. It directly correlates with enhanced patient outcomes, reduced surgical complications, and overall patient safety.

In their commentary and call to action, Drs. Kougias and Sharath reason that while existing surgical quality improvement programs have markedly improved standards of care over the last three decades, today’s healthcare landscape demands more. New tools and variables are needed to reduce post-surgical complications and ensure patient safety.

Concrete suggestions on how to operationalize safety improvements include:

  • Improve data sampling. Advances in computing infrastructure and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence now make it possible to collect and analyze perioperative data with a sophistication out of reach just a few years ago.
  • Include information on patients’ social determinants of health. Gathering information on these before and post-discharge will increase the ability to account for more than just clinical factors when assessing outcomes.
  • Track facility-level variables. These variables will help examine the effect of hospital infrastructure in a nuanced and holistic way.
  • Expand patient-centered endpoints. Patients’ values and preferences should be sought after, embraced, and respected.
  • And finally, surgeons must ensure that the very definition of quality of life post-surgery includes lasting, positive differences in patients’ lives.

The insights and recommendations offered by Drs. Kougias and Sharath pave the way for a new era in surgical quality and patient care. By embracing advanced data analysis, acknowledging the broader spectrum of patient health determinants, and redefining the metrics of success, we stand on the brink of a significant transformation in surgical care.

Tags: Surgery