As the director of the Institute of Medicine's Quality of Health Care in America project, Janet Corrigan, 51, helped launch healthcare's patient-safety and quality-improvement movements with the IOM's publication of the reports To Err is Human in 1999 and Crossing the Quality Chasm in 2001. Now as the leader of the National Quality Forum, she says she hopes to spur both movements past the awareness-raising phase and into an era that sees action taken and results measured. "We've got to create a different environment than we've had — one that offers different incentives, offers different tools and has the financial incentives for a redesign of the system," Corrigan says.
This next phase, she says, will be marked by the development and implementation of standards, and by measuring the adherence to them and any coinciding effects on patient outcomes. Corrigan acknowledges that some physicians are concerned their clinical decision-making authority is being reduced, but she says standardization will allow them to make better use of their medical knowledge.
"It's not taking away responsibility of clinicians to treat or cure," she says. "When you standardize the routine, you free up time to allow physicians to focus on the complex.
"We need better measures of patient outcomes," she says. "We need a strong voice to bring focus back on the patient."