Despite the nation’s advancements in health and medicine, care is not equally available and accessible across communities, populations, and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups. To help providers and others address this issue, the National Quality Forum (NQF) issued a roadmap for reducing disparities using quality performance measures and related policy levers.
“NQF is deeply committed to achieving health equity for all Americans,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., NQF’s president and CEO, in a prepared statement. “The health equity roadmap gives the nation a blueprint to eliminate healthcare disparities. NQF will support stakeholders in implementing these action steps through a new NQF Health Equity Program that will be launched in mid-October.”
The roadmap lays out four actions:
• prioritizing measures that can help to identify and monitor disparities;
• implementing evidence-based interventions to reduce disparities;
• investing in the development and use of measures to assess interventions that reduce disparities; and
• providing incentives to reduce disparities.
Noting ways that its action steps may be applied, the NQF roadmap suggests that:
• Hospitals and health plans identify and prioritize reducing disparities by stratifying and risk adjusting performance measures by social risk factors that produce disparities and distinguishing which they can address in the short- and long-term;
• Clinicians implement evidence-based interventions by connecting patients to community-based services or culturally tailored programs shown to mitigate the drivers of disparities;
• Measure developers work with patients to translate concepts of equity into performance measures that can directly assess health equity; and
• Policymakers and payers incentivize the reduction of disparities and the promotion of health equity by building health equity measures into new and existing healthcare payment models.
The roadmap recommends that the healthcare system support hospitals and physician practices with additional payment for patients with social risk factors, as well as assistance to develop the infrastructure to provide high-quality care for people with social risk factors.
NQF developed the roadmap with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with input from a committee of nearly two dozen public- and private-sector stakeholders, including payers, providers, consumers and patients.