National Quality Strategy: 2012 Annual Progress Report
On April 30, 2012, HHS released the 2012 Annual Progress Report to Congress on the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care (National Quality Strategy). The report details the implementation of the National Quality Strategy over the past year and establishes key measures and goals that will be used to measure national progress in improving quality.
The Affordable Care Act calls for the National Quality Strategy to “improve the delivery of health care services, patient health outcomes, and population health.” After engaging both public and private stakeholders and collecting input, the National Quality Strategy was released in March 2011.
A central goal of the National Quality Strategy is to build a consensus on how to measure quality so that stakeholders can align their efforts for maximum results. The strategy itself serves as a framework for quality measurement, measure development, and analysis of where everyone can do more, including across HHS agencies and programs as well as in the private sector.
The strategy presents three aims for the health care system:
- Better Care: Improve the overall quality of care, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.
- Healthy People and 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 help achieve these aims, the strategy also established six priorities, to help focus efforts by public and private partners. Those priorities 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.
Building on Last Year’s Release: What’s New in the Report
Nationwide Initiatives to Advance Quality Improvement: Since the release of the National Quality Strategy, HHS has launched nationwide initiatives to improve health care quality in each of the six priorities set by the National Quality Strategy. This report describes many of these current efforts, including Partnership for Patients and Million Hearts.
Alignment of Measurement Efforts: Prior to the development of the National Quality Strategy, health care quality programs across the federal government used different measures and required health care providers to collect and report the same information in multiple ways. This report describes how the National Quality Strategy has led to alignment of these measurement approaches and is reducing the burden on health care providers who are working to improve quality.
Key Measures to Track National Progress: This year’s annual progress report establishes key measures that will be used to track national progress in each of the six National Quality Strategy priorities. These measures were selected after a robust public stakeholder input process. For some of the measures this report lists ‘aspirational targets’ for improvement to inspire rapid improvement. For example, one of the measures being used to track the quality of cardiovascular care is the percentage of people trying to quit smoking who get the help they need. Today it’s only 23% and the target for improvement is 65% by 2017.
State Adoption of the National Quality Strategy: States across the country are adopting the National Quality Strategy priorities and are using them to demand higher quality from private health insurers and to improve the quality of care for Medicaid beneficiaries. The report details the work of two states, Colorado and Ohio, to improve quality along the six National Quality Strategy priorities.
As described in the 2011 strategy, the National Quality Strategy is an adaptable and evolving guide to improve health, improve quality of care, and lower costs for all Americans. As its implementation proceeds, the National Quality Strategy will be periodically refined, based on lessons learned in the public and private sectors, emerging best practices, new research findings, and the changing needs of the Nation. In particular, the next version of the National Quality Strategy will include aspirational targets for a greater number of the key measures identified in this year’s report that will serve as markers of progress for the six priority areas.
The National Quality Strategy helps the nation streamline data collection and reporting, develop an organizational infrastructure at the community level that assumes responsibility for improvement efforts, and emphasizes the importance of ongoing payment and delivery system reforms. In essence, it serves as a catalyst to action as both the public and private sectors work together for better care, improved health for people and communities, and more affordable quality care.
Read the report here: 2012 Annual Progress Report to Congress on the National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care (PDF - 816 KB)
Posted on: April 30, 2012