The National Quality Forum (NQF) Sets Quality Standards and Priorities

The National Qualify Forum (NQF) was established in 1999 to build consensus among consumers, public and private payers, providers and other health care stakeholders about standardized indicators that can be used to measure and publicly report on health care quality.

From 2003 to 2009, NQF stakeholders worked to reach consensus on a set of standardized measures for conveying information on the quality of health care provided in ambulatory (outpatient) care settings. NQF's expectation is that informing providers about standardized performance measures they can use in their efforts to improve care and reporting them to the public will lead to improvement in the quality of care.

Key Results

The NQF ambulatory care measures project:

  • Endorsed a set of 131 consensus standards for ambulatory care in 13 priority areas: asthma/respiratory illness; bone and joint conditions; diabetes; heart disease; hypertension; medication management; mental health and substance use disorders; obesity; prenatal care; prevention, immunization, and screening; ambulatory surgical centers; patient experience of care; and health disparities.
  • Published a two-part report (March 2008) to disseminate the standards, National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Ambulatory Care. Part 1 presents research recommendations for each of the priority areas, and defines a framework for measuring an additional area, care coordination. Part 2 includes measures to address health care disparities and recommendations for implementing the measures.