The Commonwealth Fund's Commission on a High Performance Health System is identifying policies and practices in health care delivery and financing that would lead to improved system performance. Pictured here are Commission member Glenn Hackbarth; Senior Policy Director Anne Gauthier; Chairman James J. Mongan, M.D.; and Executive Director Stephen Schoenbaum, M.D.

Photo: John Troha/Redux Plus

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fficially launched by The Commonwealth Fund on June 1, 2005, the Commission on a High Performance Health System was formed in response to mounting evidence that the fragmented U.S. health care system, fraught with waste and inefficiency, is in need of fundamental transformation.
While U.S. health spending is well over twice the per capita average among industrialized nations, these expenditures have not translated into better health for Americans overall. More than a third of the population reports problems accessing health care services, many related to cost. Medical errors account for tens of thousands of deaths annually, while only half of adults received recommended medical care. Disparities in health and health care based on insurance status, income, race, and ethnicity are pervasive. High administrative overhead and inefficiencies in the delivery of services inflate costs and compromise the quality of care.
Led by distinguished experts representing a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives, the new Commission is working on solutions to these and other problems. The Commission hopes to achieve expanded access, higher quality, and greater efficiency, while paying particular attention to those Americans who are most vulnerable because of income, insurance status, race/ethnicity, health, or age.
The group's first tasks are to 1) define the dimensions of performance in which the U.S. health system should excel, and 2) develop a clear framework of attributes that would lead to high performance. Completion of the first task will lay the groundwork for an annual "scorecard" that measures health system performance in each dimension and will help in setting short-, medium-, and long-term goals for improvement. The second step will enable the Commission to consider the policies and practices that are most critical to achieving its goals, as well as to determine how best to move these onto public and private agendas.
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James J. Mongan, M.D.
Commission Chairman
Stephen C. Schoenbaum, M.D.
Commission Executive Director