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Quality Interagency Coordination (QuIC) Task Force
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Memorandum for the President

Progress of the Quality Interagency Coordination Task Force (QuIC)

On behalf of Secretary Alexis Herman, my co-chair of the Quality Interagency Coordination Task Force (QuIC) and myself, I would like to update you on the progress of the QuIC. You directed us to convene the QuIC to further the recommendations of your Advisory Commission on consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. We are very pleased and proud to report that the QuIC—in existence only a little longer than a year—already has proven to be valuable and successful means of coordinating Federal efforts to improve the quality of health care services provided in this Nation. We are very confident that the work of the QuIC and its extraordinary collaboration will serve as a model for the private sector.

As you noted in March 1998, Federal agencies with health care responsibilities exert significant power in the health care industry, and working together they cold improve the quality of health care for all Americans. Since they first met in May 1998, the Cabinet Departments and Agencies participating in the QuIC—Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Labor, Commerce, and Health and Human Services, and the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget, the Coast Guard, the Bureau of Prisons, the Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—have proven to be deeply committed to ensuring that we provide or purchase high quality health care services. Dr. John Eisenberg, Administrator of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, serves as Operating Chair of the QuIC.

The QuIC has identified five areas that are common to the mission of each agency and that are of profound significance to improved health care quality: 1) providing patients and consumers with information to assist in their choices; 2) pursuing key opportunities for clinical quality improvement; 3) enhancing quality measurement; 4) developing the workforce; and 5) improving information systems. A multi-agency work group has been assigned to each of these areas to develop innovative projects that will achieve its goals. Health care leaders in each agency—and the QuIC as a full body—meet periodically to steer the actions of the work groups and ensure that participating agencies are aware of and contribute to the projects.

The QuIC can already boast a number of significant achievements. We would like to highlight a few:

  • Diabetes Care: The QuIC has greatly enhanced Federal collaboration on the Diabetes Quality Improvement Project (DQIP). This is particularly evident in three areas:
    1. Under the auspices of the QuIC, a number of Federal agencies are collaborating on the creation of a common clinical practice guideline to improve diabetes care. These agencies will use the guideline to improve the performance of providers.
    2. A conference was held in August to share specific successful strategies for improving diabetes care. The attendees were organizations seeking to improve their current practices. The QuIC agencies brought their success stories and strategies to this conference.
    3. The QuIC is seeking a broad agreement among Federal agencies to collect and report the performance of providers using diabetes measures developed by DQIP to judge the quality of clinical care.
  • Reducing Medical Errors: The QuIC is working with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) to create an initiative that will test several strategies for rapidly reducing the number of medical errors committed in "high-hazard" health care settings, including emergency rooms, intensive care units, and on-site rescue operations, around the country. Based on the results of previous IHI initiatives, we hope that some sites will be able to achieve reductions of 25 to 30 percent in the number of errors within 12 to 15 months.
  • Making Information Available to Consumers: The QuIC has aided the Federal Trade Commission in augmenting its web site to include information on health care quality. Through this gateway, the QuIC now links to all of the Federal sites that provide information to assist people in making choices about their health care plans and providers, including information on the quality of health plans for Medicare beneficiaries, Federal employees, and participants in DoD's Tricare plans. There are also links to the Department of Labor's health benefits education campaign to help people understand what they are getting and what their rights are.
  • A Glossary of Commonly Used Terms. The QuIC agencies realized that there could be great benefit to the American people if we could agree to reduce the chance of confusion by using the same terms to mean the same things in our public communications. A set of terms has been developed and is being circulated to the Federal agencies to solicit their agreement to use the terms. We expect to have that agreement in October.

The enclosed report includes more detail on these and other accomplishments of the QuIC. We would be pleased to brief you on the work of QuIC to date and its plans for the future.

—Donna E. Shalala

Enclosure: Progress of the Quality Interagency Task Force as of September 21, 1999

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