NAHQ Issues New Report on Healthcare Quality Workforce

NAHQ Issues New Report on Healthcare Quality Workforce

CHICAGO, May 2, 2019 – The National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) released a report on Thursday, May 2, 2019, which is the result of a multi-year effort, involving hundreds of healthcare quality professionals, healthcare executives, and academics, to create and validate a new industry-standard Framework for Healthcare Quality Competencies. The Framework outlines competencies needed by healthcare organizations to meet new healthcare goals. 

The report is viewed as a gamechanger by many healthcare leaders because it demystifies the workforce competencies needed to deliver exceptional quality and outcomes cost-effectively. This Framework and the resulting Workforce Report is the first time the profession of healthcare quality has been defined and measured. The report provides guidance on how to reduce variability in the healthcare workforce through alignment on industry-standard quality competencies. It will be released during NAHQ’s National Healthcare Quality Summit.

Healthcare industry reaction to the report
“The contribution of NAHQ’s Competency Framework and landmark Workforce Report will accelerate improvement and reset the trajectory of healthcare quality and its role in improving healthcare to meet new goals,” said Paul Stefanacci, MD, Vice President, Quality and Chief Medical Officer, Acute Care Division, Universal Health Services.

“With its work to create and validate an industry-standard Framework for Healthcare Quality Competencies and to present an assessment of the current quality workforce, NAHQ has just advanced us all in the race to improve healthcare,” said David Nash, MD, Founding Dean, Jefferson College of Population Health.

NAHQ’s research found mixed results about the readiness of the quality workforce to meet current and new challenges in healthcare.

In its report, NAHQ not only presents the validated, industry-standard Healthcare Quality Competency Framework, but also research on the current quality workforce and their performance on the competency spectrum. 

While healthcare quality professionals are succeeding at moving their organizations in directions prioritized by healthcare leaders, a surprising number said key aspects of their work were more aligned with competencies ranked on the novice end of the spectrum than the more advanced levels of proficient and expert. 

Most quality professionals self-assessed their work at the novice level for competencies associated with concepts related to healthcare value. This highlights the need for continued professional development to keep pace with healthcare evolution.

“Healthcare providers spend considerable amounts of time trying to reduce variability in how healthcare is practiced. With this new research, NAHQ suggests that healthcare should also work to reduce variability of the competencies of the healthcare quality workforce,” said NAHQ CEO and Executive Director Stephanie Mercado, “because they are responsible for key areas that the healthcare industry is focused on right now to improve itself, including data analytics, value-based contract readiness and implementation, quality reporting, outcomes improvement activities, regulatory and accreditation, population health initiatives, and more.”


The focus of the Summit and of the report is on recommended actions that healthcare leaders should take to develop their workforces to improve healthcare now. The healthcare quality workforces’ self-assessment provides clear direction for improvement across the quality spectrum. It also points the way to opportunities for making faster progress on quality and value.

The report will be released at NAHQ’s National Healthcare Quality Summit in a presentation by CEO and Executive Director Stephanie Mercado to healthcare executives and will be followed by a panel discussion. In addition to Nash and Stefanacci, the panel will also include: Nidia Williams, PhD, Vice President, Operational Excellence, Lifespan; Ted Donnelly, Corporate Director, Quality, Universal Health Services; and Andrew Kopolow, Process Improvement Consultant, UnitedHealthcare. They will talk about their organizations’ experiences in developing their workforces on industry-standard quality competencies and the impact that has had on improving outcomes and performance.

The full agenda for the two-day Summit, May 2-3, 2019, in Chicago can be viewed here. Plenary sessions will be presented by Mike Leavitt, Former Governor of Utah and Secretary of Health and Human Services and Brent James, MD MStat, Former Chief Quality Officer and Executive Director, Institute for Healthcare Delivery Research at Intermountain Healthcare.

Research Methodology
In late 2018, NAHQ created the first comprehensive framework of novice, proficient, and expert competencies for the healthcare quality profession. NAHQ’s Healthcare Quality Competency Framework sets specific job requirements and capabilities across eight dimensions, 29 competencies, and 486 behavior-based statements, stratified against novice, proficient, and expert levels. To develop these, NAHQ convened a panel of quality experts from across healthcare to define and articulate the competencies required to fulfill healthcare quality needs. Broad representation and perspectives were brought to the development of the Competency Framework through the participation of experts from providers that ranged in size, patient population, geography, and care continuum to academics, consultants, association leaders, and payers.

NAHQ validated the framework through two sequential surveys. First, it created a competency statement survey. It was distributed to 260 randomly selected healthcare quality professionals with the title of director and above who were drawn from NAHQ’s database. Thirty eligible participants completed the survey, ranking the healthcare quality competency statements on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being very important. Respondents ranked all competency statements 3 or higher, with an overall mean of 3.54, confirming all the competency statements in the framework were important. The survey also sought suggestions for missing competency statements. None were identified.

NAHQ then developed a self-assessment on the Competency Framework validated by the experts. It was distributed through an e-mail survey to a random sample from within the NAHQ database of 1,500 healthcare quality professionals. The response rate was 32%. There were 486 respondents with 369 (76%) meeting the inclusion criteria for the survey and 283 answering in all eight domain areas. Content and discriminant validity were both confirmed.

NAHQ
NAHQ is the leader in healthcare quality competencies. NAHQ provides a strategic advantage to healthcare professionals and the organizations they serve by developing and evolving competencies in healthcare quality that result in better patient and financial outcomes to support the goals of healthcare value.

NAHQ offers the only accredited certification in healthcare quality, extensive educational programming, networking opportunities, and career resources to help healthcare professionals meet the challenges they face. Learn more about NAHQ at nahq.org.

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Anshula Ahluwalia
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