National Academy of Medicine

Vital Directions for Health and Health Care

A Policy Initiative of the National Academy of Medicine



The final publication in the Vital Directions initiative, in which the steering committee synthesizes and prioritizes guidance from more than 150 experts, is now available. Read the paper now >>

Vital DirectionsMore than 5 years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, health reform is entering a critical new phase. The health system is strained by increasing demand and unsustainable costs. Too often, care decisions do not align with patient goals or evidence of effectiveness, and Americans experience untenable disparities in health and access to care. At the same time, new technologies and big data are spurring advances in medical science and the practice of care, including precision medicine. Patients are increasingly empowered to take an active role in their health, and community innovators are designing new models that could revolutionize the delivery of care. Increasing emphasis is placed on population health, wellness and prevention. These are the unprecedented challenges — and extraordinary opportunities — the new presidential administration must weigh as it charts the next steps for health reform in the United States.

About the Initiative

Guided by an 18-member steering committee, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has called on more than 100 leading researchers, scientists, and policy makers from across the United States to provide expert guidance on 19 priority issues for U.S. health policy. The resulting collection of discussion papers is organized around three overarching goals for the United States: better health and well-being; high-value health care; and strong science and technology.

Read the discussion papers now >>

On September 26 in Washington, DC, the NAM hosted a public symposium, Vital Directions for Health & Health Care: A National Conversation, to discuss policy directions proposed in these papers, identify outstanding questions, and explore cross-cutting opportunities. Discussions at the Symposium will help inform a final publication authored by members of the steering committee containing streamlined information and clear priorities for the incoming administration, as well as other policy makers and the public.

Ongoing Activities 

2016 NAM Annual Meeting President’s Forum 

On Monday, October 17, 2016, the NAM hosted its 46th Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, featuring a President’s Forum discussion on the Vital Directions for Health and Health Care initiative. The panel featured NAM President and Vital Directions Co-Chair Victor Dzau, Co-Chair Mark McClellan, The Honorable Thomas A. Daschle, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt, and Lawrence Tabak. Watch the panel discussion below:

Throughout the coming year, the NAM will continue to convene stakeholders and promote public engagement around priorities for accelerating progress in U.S. health and health care. To get involved, e-mail



The purpose of the Vital Directions for Health & Health Care initiative is to compile expert information and guidance about important directions for health and health care in the United States. The views presented in this discussion paper series are those of the authors and do not represent formal consensus positions of the NAM, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, or the authors’ organizations.

Media inquires: Contact Molly Galvin at

Other inquiries: Contact Laura DeStefano at