Measuring Effectiveness and Outcomes Introduction

Although the topic of evaluation is included as the "last chapter," it should not be considered the least important. As mentioned in Chapter 1, evaluation should be considered up front during the planning process. This chapter will discuss the benefits of evaluation, examples of methods and measures appropriate for mobile and/or portable systems, how to develop an evaluation plan and what components of the program are important to evaluate. Many evaluators make the mistake of focusing only on the process of providing care rather than the eventual outcomes in term of increasing dental access, preventing and treating oral disease and promoting oral health. Although both process and outcomes are important, funders, program administrators and fiscal managers now place more emphasis on evaluating outcomes to justify program expenditures. Milestones of program progress often are called "performance measures" and may be set by funders or administrators.