Dr Shantanu Agrawal: How Quality Measures Help to Address Health Inequities

Quality measures are 1 tool that can help clinicians uncover health inequities and address social risk factors, explained Shantanu Agrawal, MD, MPhil, CEO and president of National Quality Forum (NQF).

How can the US health system take steps to eliminate healthcare disparities through quality performance measures?
Quality measures are a way that we really express the quality of the healthcare system. Just by thinking about quality measurement, thinking about the quality paradigm, and prioritizing the areas of greatest need, we are trying to focus the attention of the healthcare system—not just NQF, really all of the relevant actors are trying to focus attention on the greatest area that requires improvement and progress in healthcare.

Quality measures help to bring that focus both at the conceptual level and at the daily level as you think about care delivery. I think it’s exactly that kind of focus and expression of values that we need to bring to social risk factors, to health inequity. This has been an area that no clinician in their practice can avoid seeing the impact of social inequities on healthcare and the outcomes of healthcare.

I think we as a community, then, have to utilize every available tool to both uncover what the inequities are and really have an impact on them. And I view quality measurement as 1 tool at our disposal.
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