One of the essential and least appreciated goals of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to help improve the performance of the health care system, making safe, high quality care the norm for patients regardless of setting.

Significant strides

We have already made substantial progress in improving safety in hospitals. It is estimated that from 2010 to 2014, hospital patients experienced 2.1 million fewer harms, 87,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and nearly $20 billion had been saved. The ACA was clearly key in these efforts, through the HHS Partnership for Patients initiative, and with progress incentivized by changes in Medicare payment.

These reductions in harms are a result of hard work across the health care system by front-line clinicians and institutions, and active engagement by patients and families all aligned with HHS’ aim to encourage better care, smarter spending and healthier people.

More to go

More work to improve the quality and safety of care is needed in hospitals, doctor’s offices, long-term care facilities and even at home. A few ways we can push to realize that goal include:

  • Investing in research and evidence

  • Creating materials to teach and train professionals based on this research

  • Generating measures and data used to track, evaluate and improve performance

High performance health care means getting the right care delivered to the right patient at the right time, in a way that uses resources wisely, respects patients’ and families’ preferences, and is as close to error-free as possible.