• The National Quality Forum (NQF) has launched a comprehensive, multi-year program to reduce health disparities and advance the delivery of high-quality healthcare for all Americans.

    Disparities are differences caused by inequities linked to social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantages. NQF’s goal is to improve health equity and healthcare quality, particularly for communities, populations, and socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic groups where health disparities persist.

    “Pointing NQF’s extensive expertise in quality measurement and improvement squarely at achieving health equity is simply the right thing to do,” said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, MPhil, NQF’s president and CEO. “To effectively address disparities and improve care, we need to understand and address the social factors affecting people every day because most of what really affects health and health outcomes happens where we live and work, not at a visit to the doctor.”

    NQF’s new Health Equity Program (PDF) includes a planned portfolio of cross-cutting projects that build upon NQF’s substantive work in health equity, including the recently released NQF Roadmap to Promote Health Equity and Eliminate Disparities (PDF) and NQF’s groundbreaking two-year trial to risk adjust certain healthcare performance measures for social risk factors to understand how these factors can influence health and health outcomes.

    Leveraging NQF’s ability to bring all stakeholders to the table to address pressing healthcare needs, as well as a decade of NQF thought leadership to promote health equity and quality improvement, NQF’s health equity program will focus on four key areas:

    • Identifying disparities and those affected by health inequity, by promoting a common understanding and standardized language around health inequity, and gathering innovative strategies for social risk factor data collection
    • Influencing performance measurement, by facilitating the development of needed measures to promote health equity and reduce disparities
    • Inspiring implementation of best practices and innovative approaches by disseminating best practices and innovative interventions as well as lessons learned, and by creating practical, applied guidance
    • Informing payment by convening thought leaders and experts to explore the impact of payment on health equity, as well as emerging issues related to risk adjusting performance measures for social risk factors such as income, education, and health literacy.

    NQF will engage its more than 430 member organizations in its new Health Equity Program, and is seeking external funding from various sources for components of the initiative, parts of which are already underway. For example, the Aetna Foundation has awarded NQF a grant to better understand how to address the impact of food insecurity on health and health outcomes. The Foundation previously supported the development of a strategy to address the impact of social determinants of health on care quality and outcomes.

    “Right now, we have too few standards in place to understand the impact of social factors on people’s healthcare and overall wellbeing,” said Garth Graham, MD, MPH, president of the Aetna Foundation. “We need to take action to ensure that people live their healthiest lives possible, and our work with NQF is key to achieving that goal.”

    In addition, NQF is continuing its initiative to better understand the impact of risk adjusting performance measures for social factors with a new, three-year commitment focused on unanswered questions about social risk adjustment of measures, including determining what data are needed and how to access them.

    To learn more or get involved, please contact NQF at healthequity@qualityforum.org.

 
 
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