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Keywords:

  • Quality of care/patient safety (measurement);
  • health policy/politics/law/regulation;
  • health care organizations and systems

The need for health services research is likely to rise rapidly as the population ages, health care costs soar, and therapeutic and diagnostic choices proliferate. Building an effective and efficient health care delivery system is a national priority. Yet the national health care quality report concludes that we lack the ability to monitor progress toward even basic quality and patient safety goals effectively.

The gap between the need to improve and our ability to do so exists in part because we fail to view the delivery of health care as science, we lack national improvement priorities, and we lack a national infrastructure to achieve our stated goals.

We discuss key challenges implicit in correcting these failures and recommend actions to expedite progress.