The Department of Health and Human Services has unveiled the long awaited 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 comprehensive 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.
For those who have stated the Affordable Care Act lacked sufficient focus on improving quality it has now been addressed -- one year after passage of the federal health care reform legislation. But is this strategy enough, let's take a close look.
According to an HHS press release, the National Quality Strategy will pursue three broad aims. These aims will be used to guide and assess local, State, and national efforts to improve the quality of health care.
- Better Care: Improve the overall quality, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.
- Healthy People/Healthy Communities: Improve the health of the U.S. population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, social and, environmental determinants of health in addition to delivering higher-quality care.
- Affordable Care: Reduce the cost of quality health care for individuals, families, employers, and government.
To advance these aims, HHS plans to initially focus on six priorities. As the National Quality Strategy is implemented in 2011 and beyond, HHS says it will work with stakeholders to create specific quantitative goals and measures for each of these priorities. They are:
- Making care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care.
- Ensuring that each person and family are engaged as partners in their care.
- Promoting effective communication and coordination of care.
- Promoting the most effective prevention and treatment practices for the leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease.
- Working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.
- Making quality care more affordable for individuals, families, employers, and governments by developing and spreading new health care delivery models.
HHS argues that these priorities can only be achieved with the active engagement of clinicians, patients, provider organizations, and many others in local communities across the country, something the National Quality Strategy supports. Here is the full report if you wish to see the specifics on how HHS will pursue increasing national health care quality.