The National Quality Forum on Wednesday launched an effort to improve health and patient outcomes by the end of the decade.
The organization's new report, called the Care We Need: Driving Better Health Outcomes for People and Communities, was created in response to the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Institute of Medicine report To Err is Human. NQF is hoping this new report will galvanize a re-energized quality movement as the To Err is Human report did twenty years ago with actionable goals for the industry.
"We want every single time a person seeks healthcare that they are essentially guaranteed high value care," said Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, CEO of NQF. "We have made progress, but that progress has been heterogeneous, not everyone feels it every time."
While healthcare groups have made some inroads on quality issues over the last two decades, medical errors and health disparities are still concerning.
"Those of us who have been in this for a long time are both gratified and disappointed — gratified that quality has moved up on the agenda with some of the successes that have been achieved but we were hopeful more would have been accomplished," Dr. Kenneth Kizer, founding CEO of NQF who co-chaired the report's task force.
NQF hopes the healthcare industry can achieve 10 goals in 10 years. Nearly 100 patients, hospitals, payers and CMS helped select the recommendations, which address several issues including social determinants of health, unsynchronized personal health information and lack of transparency of quality data for consumers.
Although the task force selected the goals before the COVID-19 pandemic, Agrawal said the challenges they address are still relevant.
Two of the goals call for expanding virtual care, which has taken off during the pandemic and received more flexible reimbursement. Agrawal said the quick adoption of telehealth shows how nimble the industry can be when motivated.
NQF expects some will oppose the goals because they would change current business operations, such as implementing a single-person identifier across health records.
"There are folks who will object to that despite how sensible it is," Kizer said.
Agrawal said the goals laid out are achievable but will require cultural change. He's hopeful the COVID-19 pandemic will encourage serious action.
"We as a healthcare system should act as a coherent integrated system and that has really changed in response to the pandemic," he said. "We went from the status quo to a lot of the actors that were discordant with each other acting like regional systems."