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Working for Quality > About the NQS > NQS: Fact Sheet

The National Quality Strategy: Fact Sheet

About the National Quality Strategy
How the National Quality Strategy Works
Who Is Responsible for the National Quality Strategy?
What You Can Do


The National Quality Strategy is a national effort to align public- and private-sector stakeholders to achieve better health and health care for all Americans.


About the National Quality Strategy

  • The National Quality Strategy (NQS) was first published in March 2011, and is led by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Established as part of the Affordable Care Act, the NQS serves as a catalyst and compass for nationwide focus on quality improvement efforts and a nationwide approach to measuring quality.

Improving health and health care quality can occur only if all sectors of the health care community make it a priority. Knowing this, the NQS seeks to unite providers; payers; academic institutions; nonprofit organizations; local, State, and Federal governments; and others in committing to this shared strategy.

How the National Quality Strategy Works

The NQS concurrently pursues three aims to provide better, more affordable care for the individual and the community:

  • Better Care: Improve the overall quality of care, by making health care more patient-centered, reliable, accessible, and safe.
  • Healthy People/Healthy Communities: Improve the health of the U.S. population by supporting proven interventions to address behavioral, social, and environmental determinants of health, in addition to delivering higher quality care.
  • Affordable Care: Reduce the cost of quality health care for individuals, families, employers, and governments.

To advance these aims, the NQS focuses on six priorities for health and health care quality that have an impact on most Americans:

Checklist icon Making care safer by reducing harm caused in the delivery of care.
Nurse with patient icon Ensuring that each person and family are engaged as partners in their care.
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Promoting effective communication and coordination of care.

Heart icon

Promoting the most effective prevention and treatment practices for the leading causes of mortality, starting with cardiovascular disease.

Running woman icon

Working with communities to promote wide use of best practices to enable healthy living.

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Making quality care more affordable for individuals, families, employers, and governments by developing and spreading new health care delivery models.

Who Is Responsible for the National Quality Strategy?

The NQS is a national, not a Federal, initiative. However, HHS and other Federal agencies play a key role in implementing the National Quality Strategy.

The Affordable Care Act requires HHS agencies to develop Agency-Specific Plans to achieve the NQS priorities; establish annual benchmarks for success; and regularly report on progress against these benchmarks. The Agency-Specific Plans, available at http://www.ahrq.gov/workingforquality/reports.htm, demonstrate how the agencies from across HHS are helping to implement the NQS through programs, initiatives, and grants.

The Interagency Working Group on Health Care Quality, also established by the Affordable Care Act, intends to foster collaboration, cooperation, and consultation on quality-related efforts between Federal departments and agencies, and with the private sector. This group meets once a year to discuss ongoing initiatives and best practices to prevent inefficient duplication of quality efforts and resources. Senior-level representatives from 24 Federal agencies with quality-related missions and programs make up the Interagency Working Group.

The NQS works directly with the National Quality Forum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public service organization that reviews, endorses, and recommends use of standardized health care performance measures, through two formal partnerships: the National Priorities Partnership and the Measures Application Partnership.

  • The National Priorities Partnership is composed of 52 major national organizations with a shared vision to achieve better health, and a safe, equitable, and value-driven health care system. The Partnership plays a key role in identifying specific ways in which all partners can work together to achieve the aims of better care, affordable care, and healthy people and communities.\
  • The Measures Application Partnership is a public-private partnership that reviews performance measures for potential use in Federal public reporting and performance-based payment programs, while working to align measures used in public- and private-sector programs.

What You Can Do

The NQS supports the sharing of best practices in health and health care quality improvement at the national, State, and local level, and will provide opportunities for the entire Nation to benefit from suc collaboration. Learn more by visiting www.ahrq.gov/workingforquality and downloading the Stakeholder Toolkit, or tell us about your efforts by submitting comments to NQStrategy@ahrq.hhs.gov.

AHRQ Publication No. 14-M006-EF
   (Replaces OM 13-0070-EF)
Current as of February 2014


HHS logoNational Quality Strategy: Better Care. Healthy People/Healthy Communities. Affordable Care. Working for Quality

A Federal Government Web site managed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality