Identifying Priority Areas for Quality Improvement

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Quality and Patient Safety
Board: Board on Health Care Services

Activity Description

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, calls for fundamental reform of the health care delivery system. As currently structured, the health care system frequently falls short in its ability to apply knowledge to practice, and to apply new technology safely and appropriately.

As a first step, the IOM Committee recommended that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the lead agency for health care quality, identify not fewer than 15 priority areas taking into account frequency of occurrence, health burden and resource use. After designation of the priority areas, efforts could then be made to convene the relevant stakeholders for each priority condition and develop action plans for achieving substantial improvements in quality over the coming five years.

This project provided advice to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for establishing a limited number of priority conditions (i.e., common, mostly chronic conditions that account for a large share of disease burden and health care resource use). Specifically, the IOM was asked to:

  • Identify a possible set of criteria and a process that might be used by DHHS in designating priority areas. Such criteria might include: prevalence, burden of illness, cost, variability in practice, and the potential to improve outcomes or practice.
  • Identify a set of approximately 15 areas that might serve as the focus of initial redesign efforts.

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