Special Communication
September 12, 2001

Establishing Health Care Performance Standards in an Era of Consumerism

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: The National Quality Forum, Washington, DC.

JAMA. 2001;286(10):1213-1217. doi:10.1001/jama.286.10.1213

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.