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'National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care’ Reflects an Unprecedented Commitment to More Patient-Centered Care and to Improving Communication, Coordination of Care

On First Anniversary of Affordable Care Act, Broad-Based Coalition Lauds First-Ever National Quality Strategy as Step Forward in Improving Care For Vulnerable Older Patients and Their Family Caregivers

WASHINGTON, D.C. — March 22, 2011 — Leaders of the Campaign for Better Care praised America’s first-ever National Quality Strategy to improve health care, submitted to Congress yesterday by the Department of Health and Human Services, as an important start to a badly needed national effort to improve the quality of care for all patients. Required by the Affordable Care Act, the new Strategy makes person- and family-centered care, better coordination and communication, and genuine patient and family engagement key to improving our health care system and reducing costs. These are the very measures that can improve care for older patients and people with multiple health conditions, who rely on our health care system most, the leaders said.

"Every day, our health care system lets down the most vulnerable patients by failing to provide comprehensive, coordinated, patient- and family-centered care," said Debra L. Ness, President of the National Partnership for Women & Families. "The results include a fragmented, burdensome system, patients who get sicker instead of better, stress on families, wasted health care dollars, persistent disparities, unnecessary and duplicative tests, and lives damaged and lost. We can do better, and we are delighted that the Administration is making a commitment to engage stakeholders in finding ways to improve care. As leaders working on better care for patients with multiple health problems, the Campaign for Better Care commits to helping advance the new Strategy."

The Campaign for Better Care issued comments last October to guide the new Strategy, and many have been incorporated.

The National Quality Strategy is the first effort to create national goals and priorities to guide local, state and federal initiatives to improve the quality of care. It is based on the "Triple Aim" of better care for patients, healthier communities and lower health care costs. Campaign for Better Care leaders said that the hard work now begins to translate this Strategy into concrete action, and that while the Strategy provides a roadmap, there will need to be strong benchmarks to hold all stakeholders accountable to achieve its aims.

"The National Quality Strategy provides an essential roadmap toward meeting the goal of providing every person in the United States with access to quality, affordable health care," said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "By focusing on patients, their families, their caregivers and their communities, the Strategy should be especially helpful in addressing the significant disparities in health care delivery that increase the risk of preventable disease and premature death in low-income communities and communities of color. We applaud the introduction of the Strategy and hope to see it implemented without delay."

"We are especially pleased that the National Quality Strategy calls for engagement of patients and their families as partners in their care, and prioritizes effective communication and coordination of care," said Emily Spitzer, Executive Director, National Health Law Program. "That is especially important for people with multiple health problems who make the heaviest use of the health care system, at the highest cost and often with the poorest outcomes. They are counting on us to make sure the National Quality Strategy evolves in ways that will improve care."

"This week, as we celebrate the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, it is appropriate that we rally around the National Quality Strategy and work together to improve care," said Robert Restuccia, Executive Director, Community Catalyst. "It provides a useful roadmap for consumer advocates working to improve the quality of health care in their states and communities."

The National Quality Strategy is designed to be an evolving guide as the nation continues to advance efforts to measure and improve health and health care quality.

The Campaign for Better Care aims to ensure that the reformed health care system provides the comprehensive, coordinated, patient- and family-centered care that older adults and individuals with multiple health problems need. It is advocating for better ways of delivering care including effective care coordination, transition management, medication management, support for patients and their family caregivers, and care that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.

The Campaign for Better Care is led by the National Partnership for Women & Families, Community Catalyst, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the National Health Law Program — and funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.