No single solution can boost health care quality, says a new issue brief that examines collaborative efforts at the community level aimed at bridging the "quality chasm" between the existing health care system and one delivering the highest quality. Each community is different, and each coalition is approaching quality improvement in ways best suited to local needs.
The brief, published by Alliance for Health Reform, analyzes how local coalitions are advancing the use of health information technology (HIT), reporting quality measures, and overcoming challenges going forward. Referring to the 6 priorities established in the National Quality Strategy, the brief says, "Though this guidance is aimed at a national audience, many of the priorities outlined in the national strategy involve engagement at the local level." Two priorities particularly emphasize the local nature of health care delivery: (1) effective communication and coordination of care, and (2) working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.
The authors also look at Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q), a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project that touches nearly 37 million people across 15 states, involves more than 31,000 primary care providers, and includes 92,000 hospital beds. All AF4Q communities have publicly released reports comparing the quality of local providers' care.
In addition, the report discusses the Beacon Community Cooperative Agreement Program, which funds 17 demonstration communities around the country to develop innovations that improve the quality of health care delivery while slowing the growth of health care spending.
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