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This publication has undergone peer review according to procedures established by the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). Publication by the NAM signifies that it is the product of a carefully considered process and is a contribution worthy of public attention, but does not constitute endorsement of conclusions and recommendations by the NAM. The views presented in this publication are those of individual contributors and do not represent formal consensus positions of the authors’ organizations; the NAM; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

What can be more vital to each of us than our health? Yet, despite unprecedented health care spending, the U.S. health system is substantially underperforming, especially with respect to what should be possible, given current knowledge. Although the United States is currently devoting 18% of its Gross Domestic Product to delivering medical care—more than $3 trillion annually and nearly double the expenditure of other advanced industrialized countries—the U.S. health system ranked only 37 in performance in a World Health Organization assessment of member nations. In Vital Directions for Health & Health Care: An Initiative of the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), which has long stood as the nation’s most trusted independent source of guidance in health, health care, and biomedical science, has marshaled the wisdom of more than 150 of the nation’s best researchers and health policy experts to assess opportunities for substantially improving the health and well-being of Americans, the quality of care delivered, and the contributions of science and technology. This publication identifies practical and affordable steps that can and must be taken across eight action and infrastructure priorities, ranging from paying for value and connecting care, to measuring what matters most and accelerating the capture of real-world evidence. Without obscuring the difficulty of the changes needed, in Vital Directions, the NAM offers an important blueprint and resource for health, policy, and leaders at all levels to achieve much better health outcomes at much lower cost.

Suggested Citation:
National Academy of Medicine. 2017. Vital Directions for Health & Health Care: An Initiative of the National Academy of Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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