Improving the quality of health care is the focus of an effort underway by the Coalition and the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI). The initiative, Accelerating Change Today (A.C.T.) – For America’s Health, will identify and spread the word on innovations in health care delivery and medical practice.
The initiative will seek out those “best practices” in medicine that are yielding better patient care, increasing access to timely medical care, lowering costs, making the health system easier to use, and reducing errors and inappropriate care. The selected “best practices” will be profiled in periodic non-technical reports. The first report will deal with medical error reduction and patient safety and will be released in June 1999. The second will center around end-of-life issues and will be published in the Fall of 1999.
The reports will be widely disseminated to hospitals, doctors’ and nurses’ groups, managed care plans, health insurers, the media, key business and consumer groups, employer health care coalitions, and federal and state government health agencies.
IHI is an independent, non-profit organization based in Boston and founded in 1991. Its co-founder and president, Donald Berwick, M.D., is one of the nation’s leading authorities on health care quality. A report by Dr. Berwick, As Good as It Should Get: Making Health Care Better in the New Millennium, was prepared for the Coalition and released at a press briefing on September 23, along with the announcement of the A.C.T. Initiative. The report cites numerous examples of how clinicians and health care administrators have improved care and saved money in the process.
“We are very excited about this new venture,” said Henry E. Simmons, M.D., M.P.H., Coalition president. “Improving the quality of health care in this country must become a national priority for the 21st century. With this initiative, we hope to do our part to move towards the goal of a system that is as nearly free of errors and inappropriate and unnecessary care as is humanly possible.”
A number of Coalition members and representatives of other organizations participated in the press briefing and voiced their support of this effort. Coalition members who spoke at the briefing included: Morton Bahr, President, Communications Workers of America; Kenneth Bloem, CEO, Georgetown University Medical Center, representing the Association of Academic Health Centers; Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., Member, Board of Regents, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine; Walter Maher, VP, Public Policy, DaimlerChrysler; Rev. W. Charles Rawlings, Director, Urban Programs and Resources, National Council of Churches, and Patricia Smith, Senior Coordinator – Health, American Association of Retired Persons. Other participants, in addition to Dr. Simmons and Dr. Berwick, included John Eisenberg, M.D., Administrator, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and Karen Ignagni, President, American Association of Health Plans.