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Greater Boston Aligning Forces for Quality

In 2009, MHQP launched the Greater Boston Aligning Forces for Quality (GB AF4Q) initiative, a coalition of more than 30 Boston-area organizations focused on collaboratively improving quality in health care. This endeavor was supported for 6 years with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Aligning Forces for Quality initiative, its premier effort to lift the overall quality of healthcare in our nation's communities. GB AF4Q focused on three activities: engaging patients in health care quality improvement, exploring new opportunities in measuring and reporting on quality, and building community capacity for health. Much of the work initiated under the grant, which ended in 2015, continues under the auspices of existing programs.

Engaging Consumers in Health Care

Launched in 2011, MHQP's Consumer Health Council (CHC)—comprised of patients, family caregivers, and patient advocates—served GB AF4Q in an advisory role, bringing the patient and community perspective to its many efforts. CHC members have helped to drive MHQP's work to better engage healthcare consumers, patients, and their families by:

  • providing consumer and patient perspective to conversations in workgroups and governance meetings, 
  • contributing to the development of consumer-focused messaging and public reporting, and
  • helping to design and test healthcarecompassma.org—the statewide, consumer website focused on healthcare quality, featuring results from the Patient Experience Survey, which captures how individuals and families feel about the care they receive from their physicians.

Measuring and Reporting

As part of the GB AF4Q grant, MHQP convened participants as part of a statewide pilot project with partners, including Blue Cross Blue Shield MA, to identify and discuss variations in how physicians treat patients with similar conditions. Research indicates that exploring such variations, through practice pattern variation analysis (PPVA), can lead to improvements in healthcare quality and cost efficiency by reducing unnecessary or inappropriate care. The PPVA pilot program has become a statewide collaborative initiative directed by MHQP.

GB AF4Q also helped fund and support the Boston Health Equity Measure Set. The Boston Public Health Commission, working with hospitals and health centers, developed and implemented the new set of 19 measures for primary care and emergency care. As a result, provider institutions are expected to begin reporting gathered data by July 2016.

Building Community Capacity for Health

In Boston, residents of the Roxbury community have the highest rates of childhood asthma and adult diabetes. To help Roxbury’s residents’ improve their own health, GB AF4Q, in partnership with the Boston Alliance for Community Health, supported a neighborhood health improvement effort called Healthier Roxbury. The effort brought Roxbury community stakeholders—including providers and provider institutions, community-based organizations, and residents—together around shared accountability for improving outcomes related to childhood asthma and adult diabetes.

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