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 https://www.ncahec.net/practice-support/what-we-do/.
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.