About Us


NCHQA began in 2006 when a broad array of players came together at the invitation of the governor of North Carolina. In 2008, the Governor’s Quality Initiative (GQI) became NCHQA, an independent non‑profit organization. The initial Board of Directors consisted of members appointed by the Governor and other public officials, various medical societies, insurers, the state hospital association, the North Carolina Foundation for Advanced Health Programs and Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC). It also included representatives of academic medical centers, business, consumers and other key players dedicated to improving care.

NCHQA’s first project was the promotion of evidence-based standards in primary care practices. To support this “best practice” approach, NCHQA organized training and support to physician practices and measurement of health care quality using nationally recognized standards for care for specific health conditions. We adopted common quality measures for the treatment of chronic diseases.

On-the-ground support and leadership were provided by North Carolina’s Improving Performance in Practice (IPIP) program. NCHQA and IPIP recruited primary care practices willing to improve their delivery of chronic disease care; provided training, support and tools to assist those practices in improving the quality of care; and provided feedback to practices regarding their performance in meeting quality standards. By mid-2010, more than 180 practices throughout North Carolina were receiving hands-on support with practice redesign and quality improvement.

In 2010, the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers program (AHEC) became the state’s federally-designated Regional Extension Center (REC), receiving federal funds to support implementation of electronic medical records in North Carolina physician practices. At that time, AHEC also became the administrator of the IPIP program. By directly building on IPIP’s quality improvement work in North Carolina, AHEC is able to fully integrate quality improvement into its support services and help practices implement technology to improve the quality of health care. For more information on AHEC's practice‑based primary care services, please visit http://www.ahecqualitysource.com/

Building on its early success in identifying common quality indicators, NCHQA next turned its attention to development of the NCHQA Health Atlas. The Health Atlas, a web‑based geomapping application, allowed users to quickly and easily visualize health and health care quality measures drawn from large public and private datasets. Launched in collaboration with CCNC’s Informatics Center, the Health Atlas provided professional societies, health care systems, policymakers, providers and others with new insights into the state’s health care quality challenges

Current Projects

Recent federal health reform and economic stimulus legislation dramatically broadened opportunities to improve the delivery of health care. In response to this changing landscape, NCHQA expanded its goals beyond its initial mission improvement of primary care delivery. NCHQA’s multi-stakeholder structure and long history of cooperation toward common goals provides the opportunity to achieve health care improvements that would have been deemed impossible not long ago.

NCHQA is currently pursuing projects in three areas:
  1. Leading, supporting and encouraging projects to bring coordinated care to all patients regardless of payer. The best health care systems in the world offer integrated care. Systems like the Mayo Clinic and Geisinger Health System own hospitals and labs and employ all the physicians and nurses a patient is likely to see, so they can easily integrate a patient’s care. In contrast, patients in North Carolina and throughout America typically obtain their care from a variety of independent providers. Health care expenses are paid by a variety of sources including private insurers, employers, the government and patients themselves. But North Carolina has the capacity to create a "virtually" integrated system, one that can provide the same integrated care but across an entire state.
  2. Helping primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals and others improve transitions, reduce readmissions, and generally improve quality of care across providers. When patients transition between providers and health care settings, the result is often poor health outcomes, medical errors and costly duplication of tests and procedures. In collaboration with Community Care of North Carolina, NCHQA has identified ways to improve the quality of care for patients after release from the hospital and to significantly reduce the likelihood that those patients will be readmitted.
  3. Mobilizing stakeholders across North Carolina to develop and implement common quality goals and reporting standards. NCHQA’s early work included establishing a set of standard measures by which insurers and physicians could measure the quality of care provided by a primary care physician for particular chronic diseases. NCHQA is currently leading the North Carolina Choosing Wisely Campaign, a statewide effort to implement standard, evidence‑based recommendations for avoiding unnecessary use of medical tests and procedures. Getting key stakeholders to embrace common quality goals and strategies is a difficult but critical step toward transforming health care delivery throughout the state.
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