The National Quality Forum (NQF) this week released national recommendations to drive better health outcomes for people and communities by the end of the decade.

Nearly 100 leaders have collaborated on national recommendations that they hope will drastically improve health outcomes in the same way the landmark report, To Err is Human, spurred changes to patient safety 20 years ago.

The NQF task force report, The Care We Need: Driving Better Health Outcomes for People and Communities, is a roadmap to consistent and predictable high-quality care for every person by 2030. It represents a year’s work for the task force, which includes nearly 100 leaders and diverse stakeholders from across the health care system with one common purpose—identifying opportunities to achieve better health outcomes and value for every person in every community.

“Twenty years ago, a new understanding of avoidable harm mobilized the modern quality movement and launched a series of initiatives to improve the safety and quality of the U.S. health care system.” Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., president and CEO, National Quality Forum, and co-chair of the task force, said in an announcement. “Today, COVID-19 and our persistent drive for better health outcomes again call for broad actions to achieve consistent, high-quality care for everyone. This report outlines how we can work together to build on our progress, strengths, and the lessons from this pandemic so that every person, everywhere, every time—especially the most vulnerable—can count on high-quality care.”

Building on the foundation of the Institute of Medicine’s groundbreaking reports, To Err is Human and Crossing the Quality Chasm, the task force outlines five strategic objectives supported by 10 opportunities to align the industry to one common roadmap. The recommendations in the report address longstanding, critical challenges in the nation’s quest for quality and seek to scale efforts that have demonstrated the ability to improve quality, value, and safety for people and communities.

The report outlines the following opportunities to make structural changes and those that spur the rate of improvement:

  • Implement a single-person identifier to match people to health records across all care settings
  • Standardize quality data to enable improvement and outcomes analysis
  • Adopt population health-based payment as the primary payment model
  • Standardize data and interventions to reduce disparities and achieve health equity
  • Create actionable intelligence to better educate and engage health care consumers
  • Ensure advanced technologies improve safe and appropriate outcomes
  • Integrate virtual and innovative care modalities throughout the delivery system
  • Improve access to optimal care by recognizing clinical licenses across the country
  • Accelerate adoption of leading practices
  • Cultivate workforce competencies in safe, appropriate, person-centered care

Task force members said they hope all public and private sector leaders will embrace these aligned set of priorities. Susan Frampton, Ph.D., president of Planetree International, and a board member of the NQF, said that all health care stakeholders—from policy makers to providers, payers, employers, and all leaders who have a role in shaping the safety, quality and value of the country’s health care system—have a part to play by acting on these recommendations. In addition to those traditionally involved in health care improvement efforts, she said stakeholders must recognize the essential role of patients, their families, and community members, and include them in these efforts.

“In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic we are already implementing task force recommendations far faster and more seamlessly than we could have envisioned just six months ago,” said Kenneth W. Kizer, M.D., MPH, founding National Quality Forum president and CEO, and co-chair of the task force. “We can continue building on these efforts to revolutionize health care delivery by acting on all 10 opportunities in the task force roadmap. We can and must act together to make health care work better for every person, every time.”