Sydera made a very interesting and informative post regarding healing meters over at WorldofMatticus.com a few days ago, and even though the topic is discussed over and over and over, there are still too many RLs that rely heavily on healing meters. Part of the problem stems from a healing philosophy that is very narrow-minded. When we think of heals, far too often we think of a reactive spell, cast to return life back after a damaging blow. Luckily, Blizzard has really made solid attempts at implementing various healing styles - and on the other side of the reactive heal, is the damage mitigation.
The problem is that most meters don't have an effective set up for measuring damage mitigation. The best way I can think of to do it would be simply to combine damage absorbed through a healer's spell, and add it to actual amount of healing done. Subtract over-heals from that, and you have a much better estimation of the power and ability of your healers.
However, the problem doesn't extend to merely meters. Let's take a look at the new Legendary weapon offered through Ulduar - the first healing legendary item.
Just to put a little perspective on how the developers intend for thus buff to work, let's read a little explanation from Bornakk, that shmexy Blue Blizzard Orc: (the forum thread is here)
"The way this works is that when the proc happens (which is a 10% chance whenever a hot or direct spell heals, with a 45 sec internal cooldown) you gain a buff (the Blessing) on yourself. Now all of your heals for the next 15 sec cause an 8 sec damage shield. The shield stacks with itself. It includes healing done by subsequent ticks of existing hots on the target. Note that the spell has to actually heal, so hots ticking on a fully-healed target cannot cause the proc. However the shield is based on the size of the heal itself, not the amount healed – i.e. 100% overhealing will not proc the Blessing on the healer, but the shield itself includes overhealing once the Blessing is active. The shield can grow to a maximum size of 20,000 damage absorbed. "
(NB: This is only a small portion of his entire explanation - he also lists some examples)
Part of what prompted this post was a discussion I was having with some fellow Alliance mates on our forum. I generally roll my eyes and avoid discussions of which class better deserves an item, or who can get better use out of it, but after reading the tooltip and the Blizzard explanation, I can't help but feel a little worried for some of my fellow priests of the Discipline persuasion. A lot of their aid comes in the form of shields - not necessarily direct heals.
The interesting thing is that while promoting this new strategy of "less reactive, more proactive" healing via mitigation, Blizz still seems to be having trouble integrating the two effectively. Essentially, with this mace, your heals have a chance to proc a shield. However, your shields do not have that same chance. In addition, the size of the shield procced is based on the size of your heal.
There is a glyph for priests that allows your shields to heal for 20% of the absorption amount of your shield, and Blizz has reassured us that this can proc the Blessing of Ancient Kings. But, even with that, that glyphed heal is not very large, and since the size of the proc shield is based on the size of the heal that causes it, even this will not be very effective.
However, I am by no means an expert on Discipline priests, and I merely intend this to voice some of my concerns. I would really hate to see Disc priests get by-passed entirely for the chance to have this mace. But, it may be too soon to tell, and it could very well be that after all is said and done, and we start to see these maces in action, that all my concerns are for naught.
But even if that is the case, I still maintain my stance that there need to be some changes in how damage mitigation efforts are valued. I do also wonder if tanks have similar problems - if your class is known for its skill in avoiding damage altogether, as opposed to being able to survive big hits, does this in turn cause problems for evaluating tank performance?
Regardless, before Disc priests ever get their "Bella shields" we've heard rumors about (AoE shields, mmm), this is an issue that needs to be addressed and resolved in some way - and I don't think it would be very difficult, with some simple redesigning.