• Patient-centered—providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.

  • Timely—reducing waits and sometimes harmful delays for both those who receive and those who give care.

  • Efficient—avoiding waste, in particular waste of equipment, supplies, ideas, and energy.

  • Equitable—providing care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, geographic location, and socioeconomic status.

Recommendation 2: All health care organizations, professional groups, and private and public purchasers should pursue six major aims; specifically, health care should be safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable.

The committee believes substantial improvements in safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity are achievable throughout the health care sector. This opportunity for improvement is not confined to any sector, form of payment, type of organization, or clinical discipline. Problems in health care quality affect all Americans today, and all can benefit from a rededication to improving quality, regardless of where they receive their care.

The committee applauds the Administration and Congress for their current efforts to establish a mechanism for tracking the quality of care. Title IX of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 299 et seq.; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Part A) provides support for the development of a National Quality Report, which is currently ongoing. Section 913(a)(2) of the act states: “Beginning in fiscal year 2003, the Secretary, acting through the Director, shall submit to Congress an annual report on national trends in the quality of health care provided to the American people.”

Recommendation 3: Congress should continue to authorize and appropriate funds for, and the Department of Health and Human Services should move forward expeditiously with the establishment of, monitoring and tracking processes for use in evaluating the progress of the health system in pursuit of the above-cited aims of safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, timeliness, efficiency, and equity. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should report annually to Congress and the President on the quality of care provided to the American people.

Without ongoing tracking of quality to assess the country’s progress in meeting the aims set forth in this chapter, interested parties—including patients, health care practitioners, policy makers, educators, and purchasers—cannot identify

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