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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Health Care

RWJF Selects 15 Hospitals for National Quality Improvement Programs

Improving cardiac care for African-American and Hispanic patients, and more effective language services.

Published: Monday, August 31, 2009 - 14:11

(RWJF: Princeton, NJ) -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recently announced the selection of 15 hospitals to participate in two new quality improvement programs as part of its ambitious Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) initiative. The AF4Q is the foundation’s signature program to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities, and provide models for real reform. Over several years and through a series of intensive communitywide efforts, the communities are serving as "learning laboratories" for improving the quality of care being delivered in a given region.

The “Aligning Forces for Quality: Language Quality Improvement Collaborative” (Language QI Collaborative) will identify and test strategies for hospitals to provide timely, effective language services to patients with limited English proficiency.

The “Aligning Forces for Quality: Equity Quality Improvement Collaborative” (Equity QI Collaborative) will identify and address racial and ethnic disparities in cardiac care, and test real-world solutions.

“Although the quality of health care is poor for many Americans, we know that some patients from specific racial and ethnic backgrounds continue to experience even lower-quality health care,” says Anne F. Weiss, M.P.P., team director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“To improve health care across America, it’s imperative that we close the gaps in care for minority patients. These two collaboratives address disparities head-on—and they do it at the local level, because while gaps in quality are a national problem, addressing them must happen locally, through hard work in real communities.”

The Equity QI Collaborative is based on the RWJF “Expecting Success: Excellence in Cardiac Care” legacy program. In just two years, hospitals participating in that pilot reported an average 37-percent increase in patients receiving all the recommended care for heart failure.

The Language QI Collaborative is based on the Foundation’s “Speaking Together: National Language Services Network” legacy program. Throughout the course of 18 months, the percentage of patients who received needed language services increased by nearly 20 percentage points at hospitals participating in the pilot.

Hospitals selected to participate in the collaboratives:

Equity QI Collaborative Participants:

Kansas City, Missouri

  • Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City
  • Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill

Memphis, Tennessee

  • Methodist North Hospital


  • Regions Hospital

West Michigan

  • Mercy Health Partners, Mercy Campus

Western New York

  • Erie County Medical Center Corporation

Language QI Collaborative Participants:

Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Detroit, Michigan

  • Beaumont Hospitals
  • Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center
  • St. Joseph Mercy Oakland

Humboldt County, California

  • St. Joseph Hospital


  • Central Maine Medical Center
  • Mercy Hospital

Puget Sound, Washington

  • Harborview Medical Center
  • Valley Medical Center

The hospitals will participate through a "learning network" to test new ideas, quantify results, and share lessons learned. Program successes will be shared nationwide, giving hospitals concrete and tested examples of interventions that they can adapt in their own busy hospital environments.

Led by RWJF, the two collaboratives will be overseen by the Center for Health Care Quality at The George Washington University Medical Center School of Public Health and Health Services, which serves as the national program office for AF4Q.

In every region involved in AF4Q, broad-based teams of people who get, give, and pay for care are working together to improve health care quality. These alliances include participation from physicians, nurses, patients, consumers and consumer groups, purchasers, hospitals, health plans, safety net providers, and others. By aligning people from across the community in different AF4Q initiatives, RWJF hopes to achieve communitywide transformation of health care.


About The Author

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s picture

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is dedicated to the research and development of initiatives to improve health care quality, and its funding has helped define the field of quality improvement by developing national quality standards, initiating pay-for-performance experiments, creating improved care models for patients with chronic illnesses, improving quality and safety in hospitals, and engaging stakeholders to measure performance and publicly report on the quality of care.