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Promote High-Value, Safe, and Effective Health Care

Improving the quality of health care involves the timely identification of individuals in need of it and their referral to a setting and a caregiver able to provide appropriate care for their condition.  Many people in the United States who are living with potentially serious and life-threatening conditions may be unaware of their disease and receive no care to address or prevent adverse impacts on their health.  In response, HHS is working to improve patient outcomes, ensure patient safety, promote efficiency and accountability, encourage shared responsibility, and reduce costs.  Through improved identification of health concerns, referral of individuals to appropriate medical care and caregivers, administrative processes, reforms, innovations, and additional information to support consumer decision-making, HHS is supporting high-value, safe, and effective care across health and behavioral health care settings and in the community.

Improve Health Care Quality and Patient Safety

HHS works to improve health care quality by making care more patient-centered, reliable, and safe. The National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care provides a roadmap to guide local, state, and national efforts to improve quality of care and safety nationwide.  To help patients make more informed decisions about their health care, HHS is supporting patient-centered research initiatives, placing patient safety at the forefront of health information technology endeavors, and supporting efforts to measure the quality of care patients receive from their providers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implements value-based purchasing programs and contracts with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), which reward providers for delivering high-quality care and spending health care dollars more wisely. 

HHS continues its efforts to reduce healthcare-associated infections, as outlined in the National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated InfectionsThe National Healthcare Safety Network at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) measures healthcare-associated infections in 100% of U.S. hospitals and more than 90% of outpatient End Stage Renal Disease hemodialysis facilities.  Partnership for Patients, a public-private partnership that helps improve the quality, safety, and affordability of health care for Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries, and by extension, all Americans, has identified reduction of healthcare-associated infections as one of its efforts to make hospital care safer, more reliable, and less costly. 

HHS recognizes that adverse drug events and prescription drug misuse continue to be a burden to the health care system, resulting in preventable deaths, excessive health care costs, and avoidable emergency visits and hospital admissions.  To address this problem, HHS is developing cross-agency efforts targeting adverse drug events and prescription drug misuse in three key areas: opioids, anticoagulants, and drugs for treating diabetes.

HHS is working to improve the quality of life and health status of individuals with multiple chronic conditions through the Strategic Framework on Multiple Chronic Conditions site exit disclaimer.  HHS also is developing a national framework for quality improvement in behavioral health care that will inform policy, measure program impact, and lead to improved quality of services and outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.

Promote High-Value Care

Through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (Innovation Center), HHS is designing, testing, and evaluating new models of payment and service delivery, and will promote the most promising strategies. For example, Pioneer ACO site exit disclaimer and Advance Payment ACO site exit disclaimer models aim to align incentives that promote higher quality care and greater accountability. Several other initiatives work to realign incentives for various provider types to improve quality, efficiency, and care coordination.  Health Care Innovation Awards fund projects across the U.S. to improve health and health care, and lower costs to people enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP. 

Through the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office, HHS works to better integrate Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and improve coordination between the federal government and states, to ensure access to quality services for individuals who are enrolled in both programs.  This work includes improving available data through enhancements to the Chronic Conditions Data Warehouse site exit disclaimer and making more Medicare data available to state Medicaid programs.  The Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office has partnered with the Innovation Center to implement demonstration projects to test two models to align service delivery and financing between the Medicare and Medicaid programs, while preserving or enhancing the quality of care furnished to Medicare and Medicaid enrollees, and to test strategies to reduce avoidable hospitalizations for Medicare and Medicaid enrollees who are long-stay residents of nursing facilities. 

Use Health Information Technology

HHS is encouraging health care providers to become meaningful users of health information technology (IT) by accelerating health IT adoption and secure information exchange, and by promoting the use of electronic health records to help improve the quality of health care, reduce costs, and improve health outcomes.  For example, incentive programs and a network of Regional Extension Centers provide technical assistance to providers transitioning from paper-based record keeping to enhance care coordination and population health management, and increase patient and family engagement.   

To track progress, CDC is measuring the adoption of electronic health records. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is maintaining a dashboard that features electronic health record adopting by providers and hospitals, e-prescribing practices, health information exchange mediated laboratory exchange and other components of program-specific achievements, such as health IT workforce programs. HHS is working to ensure that privacy and security standards and policies related to the storage and transmittal of electronic health information are strong, credible, and broadly implemented.  The Health IT Patient Safety Action and Surveillance Plan addresses provides a roadmap on key health IT safety issues and ways health IT can make care safer.

Support Optimal Health Care Outcomes through Public Health and Health Care Linkages

HHS is working to align, coordinate, and integrate public health and health care, including behavioral health care, to improve the health of all Americans.  Opportunities presented through the Affordable Care Act include expanding access to high-quality clinical preventive services, strengthening partnerships between state and local health departments and their provider communities, and linking community-based policies and programs.  Additional efforts by CMS and the Innovation Center include multi-payer reform initiatives such as the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative site exit disclaimer and the Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration site exit disclaimer.