The Premise of Our Work


Healthcare quality is foundational to achieving the overarching goals of healthcare systems worldwide: improving population health, enhancing patient experiences, and controlling costs. Yet...we are not where we need to be.

  • NO CLEAR-CUT DEFINITION, NO STANDARD: Generally speaking, quality & safety in healthcare has been tied to mandates and aspirations for improvement. And, with each mandate or aspiration, a new layer of activity or new roles were created to comply. This was done at the local level, without an industry standard, or an industry leading organization driving the coordination of the quality & safety movement. While healthcare ‘got on board’ with quality & safety, each system created their own roadmap on how to achieve it. This resulted in a highly variable workforce, highly variable governance around quality & safety by committee and boards, and highly variable sensibilities for quality & safety. 
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  • MORE THAN JUST COMPLIANCE: Too many people also view quality with a legacy mindset rooted in compliance.  We believe it’s critical to reset our idea of quality from just being linked with ‘compliance’ to a more expansive and forward-looking mindset – where quality is synonymous with sustained, system-wide ‘excellence’…and where everyone across the continuum is prepared and inspired to do their best work and make a positive impact on healthcare. 
  • NOT JUST A VERTICAL SILO AND IT CAN’T BE EVERYONE’S JOB UNLESS THE ROLE IS CLEAR: In the early days of the quality movement, quality was considered the responsibility of one department. Then, it was thought that quality should be everyone’s job. While well intended, this expectation without clear definition, left the industry assuming everyone was ‘doing it’; yet most had been trained differently or not at all in quality & safety…and roles for clinical and non-clinical staff had not been redefined to identify what quality should mean to them.


PREPARING THE WORKFORCE: We believe the workforce is the single greatest lever to address the issues facing healthcare, so it's critical that they function at their best. Yet many with quality & safety responsibilities come to the job as a second profession because they were very accomplished at another role first. As a result, they have not been trained on industry standard competencies for quality & safety. And, as quality is expected to be everyone’s job – it is critical that we explain what that means and that the industry takes responsibility for consistent training standards. Today’s workforce is made up of 5 generations of individual contributors – trained differently or not at all in quality and safety. This must change. Alignment around industry standard knowledge and competencies and role clarity should be a minimum expectation.

FOLLOWING THE FRAMEWORK: We help solve that through the creation of the NAHQ Healthcare Quality Competency Framework. It defines the 8 domains, 29 competencies, and 486 skills required for high functioning quality & safety organizations and serves as the industry-standard. Using the framework as our blueprint, NAHQ offers workforce programs and comprehensive, industry-standard training. We asses who is doing what work at what level, define roles, identify the gaps in where people are and where they need to be, and recommend individualized professional development plans.  We believe – and are proving out – that alignment to an industry standard is the pathway to more effective workforce activation. 

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Our research shows that among many significant challenges within healthcare, three are rising to the top as the most urgent and critical to address:

Top Industry Challenges

  • CARE: the need to improve patient care across an increasingly complex healthcare environment, where 25% of all patients still experience a medical mistake.
  • COST: the need to reduce escalating and unsustainable costs across the healthcare system, requiring organizations to do even more with even less.
  • CLIFF: the need to address an impending workforce shortage “cliff” where an aging population, requiring increasing healthcare, is leaving the workforce at rates significantly outpacing the number of younger people entering the workforce. The results will be workforce shortages and burnout rates never seen before.

The stakes have never been higher. We believe quality & safety is the greatest lever that can address all three.