RWJF Launches Next Phase of Flagship Initiative to Lift the Quality of American Health Care

Aligning Forces for Quality continues unprecedented effort to improve the quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce disparities and provide models to propel reform.

    • May 5, 2011

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation announced today it will award grants of $1.3 million to 16 different health care collaboratives through its Aligning Forces for Quality initiative, continuing the foundation’s signature effort to improve the quality and value of U.S. health care.

The Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative was originally launched by RWJF in 2006 and remains the largest effort of its kind ever undertaken by a U.S. philanthropy. In total, RWJF has committed $300 million to projects to improve the quality and equality of U.S. health care with AF4Q being the flagship program of the portfolio. The program works to improve health care by engaging patients in their care, publicly reporting the performance of physicians and hospitals, and improving the quality of care delivered in each community. The foundation hopes to provide models that will help propel national reform by providing resources, expertise and training to help providers, payers and consumers all do their part.

In this third phase of the AF4Q initiative, the 16 participating communities will develop and test models of paying for health care based on value—not volume—of services provided by physicians and other providers, as they continue to build on previous successes and lessons learned to further improve the quality of care. The selected communities are Albuquerque, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Humboldt County (Calif.), Kansas City (Mo.), Maine, Memphis, Minnesota, Oregon, Puget Sound (Wash.), South Central Pennsylvania, West Michigan, Western New York and Wisconsin.

“The Aligning Forces communities are models of health care improvement. The community organizations working on this effort have pioneered ground-breaking concepts that are also being explored through federal reform and have attracted bipartisan support, such as physician performance reports, patient-centered medical homes, and of late, payment reform,” said Anne F. Weiss, MPP, team director and senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “In this next phase, communities will continue to make measurable improvements in quality by placing greater focus on increasing the value of health care delivered.”

For nearly a decade, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has been dedicated to the research and development of initiatives to improve health care quality, and its funding has helped define the field of quality improvement by developing national quality standards, initiating pay-for-performance experiments, creating improved care models for patients with chronic illnesses, and improving quality and safety in hospitals. Building on this legacy, RWJF crafted the AF4Q program to move beyond improving care one clinic, one hospital, or one disease at a time, and instead take a community-based approach.

AF4Q brings an unprecedented commitment to turn proven practices into real results. The communities’ continued participation brings them direct financial support and technical assistance and training from national experts, coordinated by the Center for Health Care Quality at The George Washington University, the national AF4Q program office.

“Health care costs are growing at a rate that places enormous burdens on our country’s economy, yet despite these high costs, people are still not always getting the right care at the right time,” said Robert Graham, M.D., national program director for Aligning Forces for Quality. “We need better methods for determining how our health care system can deliver value that is worth the investment—value to patients, physicians, nurses, hospitals, health plans, businesses and government. And we need to learn how are these groups can work together so that this system is sustainable.”

In the next two years, AF4Q communities will take the tools of measurement, improvement and engagement and use them to demonstrate change outside their markets. The program will work to expand the fundamental, cutting-edge changes already implemented in local communities to meet the goals of a reformed health care system: better value, greater transparency and improved care coordination.


About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.