The first set of outcome indicators for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have been published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
The 15 indicators, which relate to mortality, emergency hospital admissions and patient experience, will allow both patients and CCGs to compare the quality of commissioned health services and the associated health outcomes.
Under the NHS Commissioning Board's planning guidance Everyone counts: planning for patients 2013/14, it is claimed performance against the indicators will be used to determine a CCG's "progress" during the next year.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) welcomed the guidance "as a means to foster more openness and transparency in the NHS".
"These new plans should empower patients, giving them more information to make important decisions about their care," he said.
Commissioners will also be expected to make improvement against the NHS Outcomes Framework with results published on five areas: preventing people from dying prematurely; enhancing quality of life for people with long-term conditions; helping people recover from episodes of ill health or injury; ensuring people have a positive experience of care; treating and caring for people in a safe environment and protecting them from avoidable harm.
To improve the flow of health information, providers will be tasked with publishing consultant-level data covering survival rates and quality of care for ten specialties including cardiac, vascular and orthopaedic surgery. Publication of this information will become a contractual obligation in 2014/15 to allow comparison across hospitals.
Chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) council Dr Mark Porter described the planning guidance as "extremely ambitious".
"While many of the aims are laudable, new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will have the very real challenge of putting these aspirations into practice," he said.
"We support measures that will allow patients to have more information about their care and health outcomes.
"However, there is still more to be done to ensure that data about consultants' performance is meaningful. Basic mortality figures alone could mislead patients because they fail to take into account other factors that might have contributed to the death of a patient."
Chief executive of the NHS CB Sir David Nicholson said: "The NHS can be justly proud of its achievements but everyone in the NHS knows we must continue to improve.
"There are big challenges – not least the financial backdrop – but we must be ambitious. We want to make the NHS the best customer service in the world by doing more to put patients in the driving seat. We are determined to focus on outcomes and the rights people have under the NHS Constitution, as well as ensure those most in need gain most from the support we provide."