Greetings fellow healthcare quality professionals! I’m writing to you this month having just participated, along with thousands of you, in the celebration of Healthcare Quality Week. Since 1985, NAHQ has been using this week to shine a light on the important role healthcare quality professionals play in their organizations. I hope all of you took the time to celebrate yourself and your teams’ accomplishments in the past year.

This year, NAHQ convened leaders and innovators in our field to discuss where the healthcare quality industry is heading in the months and years to come. If you were not able to engage in these conversations real-time, don’t worry. You can still access and participate in these discussions on the NAHQ LinkedIn page

I am truly excited about the rise of healthcare quality professionals and the increasing representation we have at the highest levels of leadership in healthcare organizations. As the president of the NAHQ board of directors, I am also proud of the pivotal role NAHQ has played in this rise. So, I thought this month might be a good time to reflect on where NAHQ began its journey, where we are now, and where we are going.

Where We Began 

NAHQ was first known as the National Association of Utilization Review Coordinators. Founded in 1976, Frank Demuth, the executive director of The Healthcare Management Institute, conceived of a professional organization for healthcare workers that responded to the 1972 Bennett Amendment on the Social Security Act. This act required healthcare organizations be accountable to the government for the money that was provided to them for healthcare delivery. Taking it a step further, Demuth’s vision included engaging with organizations and professionals to ensure that they were providing the very best patient care and outcomes possible at the time.

In 1978, the association changed its name to the National Association of Quality Assurance Professionals (NAQAP). Proving competency development is in our DNA, NAQAP established the first Professional Standards and Credentials Committee. Building the healthcare quality body of knowledge remained the focus of the organization for the rest of the 1970s and 1980s. A seminal moment for NAQAP occurred in 1983 when the very first Certified Professional in Quality Assurance (CPQA) designations, the predecessor to the CPHQ credential, were awarded. The CPQA/CPHQ has continued to be updated and validated and remains central to supporting NAHQ’s mission.

How We Grew 

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, NAHQ grew by focusing on education, certification, and membership networking. We continued to promote understanding of quality concepts and enhanced our resources aimed at advancing the professional competency of our members and improving the quality of healthcare in every setting. During this time: 

  • Healthcare Quality Week was recognized (1984/1985) 
  • The Healthcare Quality Education Foundation was established (1988/89) 
  • The CPQA received accreditation from the National Organization for Competency Assurance and still today CPHQ is the only healthcare quality certification to hold independent accreditation status. (1988/89) 
  • NAQAP changed its name to the National Association for Healthcare Quality reflecting our broadening mission and increasing impact on healthcare organizations as well as healthcare quality professionals. (1990/1991) 

Increasing, NAHQ has focused on helping healthcare quality professionals drive down delivery costs, while improving patient outcomes. However, in the first decade of the new century, we had not yet hit the tipping point that would accelerate our growth, enhance our reach, and expand our influence. In 2013, Stephanie Mercado was hired as NAHQ’s CEO and together we began working to build the financial, product, and thought leadership portfolio required to fulfill NAHQ’s potential. This included establishing an independent headquarters operation in 2018. With required resources at our full disposal, NAHQ leaders and staff have worked together to turn up the growth dial, enabling us to meet the demands of our mission more effectively.

Where We Are Going 

In 2017, NAHQ began to codify and validate professional competencies at a foundational, proficient and an advanced level. This led to the development of the NAHQ Healthcare Quality Competency Framework and Professional Assessment helping individuals determine where they are in the spectrum of healthcare quality proficiency. It also helps identify skills and knowledge individuals need to develop their career. Encouraged by market adoption of the Competency Framework and Professional Assessment, NAHQ recently launched Workforce Accelerator™ to support organizations in assessing and upskilling their workforce so that they are meeting standards of quality and safety on a day-to-day basis.

For 46 years, NAHQ has been leading the healthcare quality profession and developing the supporting body of knowledge. I am pleased to say that because of our competency development research and tools, we are now also recognized as influential thought leaders. The impact of our research and insights is growing and is opening new doors for NAHQ to participate. For example, NAHQ peer reviewed research published in the Journal for Healthcare Quality in September of this year, was covered by dozens of healthcare quality publications. Motivated to fill a market need and bolstered by our success, we will continue to invest in original and collaborative research that will find its home as NAHQ Intelligence. We will be sharing more on this in the weeks to come.

With all our success, supporting you as you advance healthcare quality has been the compelling purpose of NAHQ. We continue to celebrate you, not only during Healthcare Quality Week, but 365 days each year. We are so proud of the work you do every day to provide the best for patients and for your organizations. Especially now, your work is more essential than ever. Thank you.

Marian Savage, PhD RN NEA-BC CPHQ PMP 
NAHQ President  

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