This article is more than 13 years old.

Now that Massachusetts has the attention of the nation as we move forward in providing residents with access to more affordable health care, it's time to take up the next challenge of ensuring that the medical care provided is of the highest possible quality.

Quality improvement efforts generally focus on hospitals and other medical institutions. These efforts are very important - but they are not enough. I say that as someone who has spent a good part of his professional life involved in these efforts. I strongly believe that to be effective, we need to do more. We need to make sure that patients - whose health depends on the quality of the care they receive - and their caregivers have a stronger voice in the quality conversation.

That is why I am so excited about a new effort called The Partnership for Healthcare Excellence.

This is a new non-profit that includes more than 40 organizations - including the Massachusetts Health Care Quality and Cost Council, consumer associations, disease and advocacy organizations, doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurers, business groups,
and labor.

Today, the Partnership is launching a unique statewide public education campaign. You'll see ads running in your local paper and online, and soon you'll be reading about events in your local

By arming consumers with useful information such as how to take medications safely, choose a doctor or hospital, and prepare for doctor and hospital visits - the Partnership is them tools to improve the quality of their care. It will also be encouraging consumers to advocate for overall system change - like supporting the wider use of e-prescribing and the rapid introduction of tools to help consumers manage their medications.

We all know the sad litany of statistics about medical errors. We also know that one of the strongest weapons we have in the fight for quality is the informed, empowered and engaged patient. Today, patients have a new ally in the fight for quality - The Partnership for Healthcare Excellence.

Jim Conway, Chair, Partnership for Healthcare Excellence
Senior Vice President, Institute for Healthcare Improvement

This program aired on October 25, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.