As the US health care system begins to reengineer itself to address
the need for quality improvement, it also is being actively reshaped by the
expectations of consumers. The confluence of these forces requires a new approach
to setting health care performance standards. The National Quality Forum (NQF)
has been established as a private, not-for-profit, open membership, public
benefit corporation for the purposes of developing consensus about standardized
health care performance measures, reporting mechanisms, and a national strategy
for health care quality improvement. The NQF has broad representation from
all segments of the health care industry and provides an equitable way of
addressing the disparate priorities of health care's many stakeholders. Agreement
and implementation of standardized health care performance measures and achievement
of quality improvement in the emerging era of consumerism will be facilitated
by (1) establishing national goals for health care quality; (2) embracing
public policy that recognizes the complementary roles of quality improvement,
cost control, and improved access; (3) giving greater priority to measuring
and reporting the performance of those aspects of the health care system that
directly affect consumers; (4) focusing on creating a health care culture
of excellence; and (5) promoting the active collaboration of all stakeholders.
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