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Facilitating Quality Improvement: The Future Of The National Quality Forum

June 19th, 2013

In just a few weeks, I will take on the role of president and CEO of the National Quality Forum. I’ve gone on a brief listening tour as I start this new challenge and I’m heartened by the conversations I’ve had. Whether payer, provider, patient or policymaker—everyone has thoughts on what NQF has accomplished, what the current state of quality measurement is, and what the future holds.

The feedback is helpful, because above all, the National Quality Forum is indeed a forum, dedicated to sharing ideas. Its nearly 450 members span diverse perspectives, as purchasers (whether they are consumers, employers, health plans) sit side-by-side with those who provide care.

For more than a decade, NQF-endorsed measures have been an important tool for those in the federal, state, and private sectors to use to assess and improve health care quality. However, bringing people together to understand systems of measurement, and how they can be used to improve quality, may be needed just as much right now as identifying what the most effective measures are.

NQF was designed to help navigate across silos, but I’d like to build on that foundation to try to eliminate the silos altogether. Too often in health care, different silos mean different ways to pass the buck and the blame, which ultimately benefits no one. To achieve better care, healthier people and less waste, we need to align incentives for everyone. Whether in the public or private sector, collaboration is now the name of the game.

In that spirit, I believe NQF has a key role to play in moving multi-stakeholder collaborations toward lasting, meaningful quality improvement. In the last decade, efforts aimed at quality measurement, public reporting and value-based purchasing have sparked many innovative approaches to assessing value and quality. But often, providers are being asked for performance information by many different entities, and consumers and patients have so many sources of information (much of it incomplete) that they have trouble navigating among them.

Innovation is a good thing in a world as complex as community health and health care, but finding the right information amidst all the data can be hard. I look forward to working with the accrediting organizations (Joint Commission, NCQA and others) and the medical specialty certifying boards to gain more alignment, and to better identify which measures are best used for improvement, as well as for patient or payer information.

NQF’s immediate priority is to reengineer the measure review process to be more efficient, more continuous and more relevant. With so much innovation, and so many uses of measurement, it is essential to develop a streamlined process for submission, review and endorsement. In order to be more responsive to the needs of the health care community, it might also be time to consider different levels or different pathways to endorsement.

Communication is important, too. We have to devote more attention to translating why measures matter—and we need to use language that everyone understands.

Ultimately we must make sure the measures themselves are used, and are user-friendly.

As I begin this work with so many remarkable people who have committed so much time and attention, I assure you that NQF will succeed at bringing the right people together to help improve the quality of U.S. health care. Together our focus will remain on improving quality and safety, but as we do so, we must identify the best ways to use private and public resources to make the most tangible progress for patients, providers, payers and policymakers.

I ask for your feedback along the way.

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2 Responses to “Facilitating Quality Improvement: The Future Of The National Quality Forum”

  1. David Says:

    Ms. Cassel, I believe you are trying to do the right thing with your new position as CEO of National Quality Forum, but I feel unless you understand that the Health Insurance Companies are going to create enormous roadblocks for you, because they will do what ever they have to do to protect their cash cow. Insurance principles are based on the law of numbers but over the years these companies have deviated from that principle and have used the principle of cherry picking who they want to insure. Their entire motivation is based on profits and shareholder dividends, and denying clams the majority of the time. The sooner we get to Universal healthcare/single payer, the sooner this country will be rated number one in this field.

  2. Says:

    Ms. Cassel: My credits are available At I want to urge you to take up the cultural shift to Patient centeredness in health care delivery. It means a lot more than how can I get the patient to listen to me the doctor. A good example of a health care system that has improved quality and reduced cost by centering on this concept is at Good luck in your new assignment.

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