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HHS Unveils National Quality Strategy

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, March 22, 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday unveiled a three-pronged National Quality Strategy that calls for developing patient-centered care, reducing costs, and improving general public health by supporting "proven interventions" that address unhealthy behavioral, social, and environmental issues.

The strategy was called for under the Affordable Care Act and marks the first effort to create national aims and priorities to guide local, state, and national efforts to improve healthcare, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

"The Affordable Care Act sets America on a path toward a higher quality healthcare system so we stop doing things that don't work for patients and start doing more of the things that do work," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "American hospitals, doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are among the best in the world. With this ground-breaking strategy, we are working with local communities and health care providers to help patients and improve the health of all Americans."

While promoting quality care that is focused on patients, their families, and communities, the strategy also will reduce administrative burdens and facilitate care collaboration for doctors and other providers, HHS said.

To deliver on its goals of improving care, reducing costs, and improving public health, the strategy identified several "priorities." They are:

  • Making care safer by reducing medical errors.
  • Ensuring that patients and their families are engaged as partners in the care.
  • Promoting the most effective prevention and treatment for leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease.
  • Working with communities to promote best practices for healthy living.
  • Making healthcare affordable by developing new delivery models.

HHS said the strategy was developed both through evidence-based results and in collaboration with stakeholders, including federal and state agencies, local communities, provider organizations, clinicians, patients, businesses, employers, and payers.

The National Quality Strategy will be an evolving guide, and HHS said it will continue to work with stakeholders to create specific quantitative goals and measures for each priority. Different communities have different needs and assets, and the strategy will them to take different paths to achieving these goals, HHS said.

The report may be viewed here.

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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