Choosing What to Measure 


So much of healthcare benefits from good measures. How do we figure out which measures can give us the biggest return in better quality of life for patients? Who sets the priorities, and who carries them out?

Since 2008, the National Priorities Partnership, a group of 48 organizations convened by NQF, has helped galvanize healthcare’s expansive and fragmented system around priorities and goals where concerted action makes the biggest difference for patients. Initial priorities have been patient and family engagement, care coordination, safety, population health, overuse, and palliative and end-of-life care. At the request of HHS, NPP has provided feedback on the proposed National Quality Strategy and stands ready to assist with alignment of private-sector initiatives with the Secretary’s initial plan. NPP’s recommendations built on its initial focus to encompass such areas as equal access to care and critical foundations, including health information technology and a strong evidence base, essential to improve results for patients.

The national priorities guide NQF’s agenda for endorsement of standards and educational outreach to its members. In addition, NQF is convening panels of stakeholders, including consumer representatives, from across the healthcare arena to identify areas where new measures are especially needed.

Locally, healthcare systems can turn to NPP priorities for guidance as they develop or customize measures to address the needs of their specific patients. Regionally, communities may select measures to focus on better outcomes for patients at risk in their populations — say, Latinos with diabetes. Professional societies create measures to support their members in achieving standards of care, as the Society of Thoracic Surgeons has done, and health plans develop measures to guide what they pay for and how much they pay.

It is a complex landscape, but one benefitting from increased collaboration as healthcare leaders work together to use measures to drive better health for Americans.

Humboldt County’s Care Transitions Program addresses NPP’s priority for care coordination: Ensure patients receive well-coordinated care within andacross all healthcare organizations, settings, and levels of care. 

Learn the right tools for the job.