Vital Directions for Health & Health Care

| A Special Publication of the National Academy of Medicine


Download the Special Publication


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 U.S. National Academy of Medicine (NAM, formerly the Institute of Medicine), 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.




Steering Committee

  • Victor J. Dzau, MD (Co-Chair) – National Academy of Medicine

  • Mark McClellan, MD, PhD (Co-Chair) – Duke University
  • Sheila Burke, MPA, RN – Harvard Kennedy School
  • Molly J. Coye, MD, MPH – Network for Excellence in Health Care Innovation
  • The Honorable Thomas A. Daschle – Former U.S. Senator
  • Angela Diaz, MD, PhD, MPH – Mount Sinai
  • The Honorable William Frist, MD – Former U.S. Senator
  • Martha E. Gaines, JD, LLM – University of Wisconsin Law School
  • Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg, MD – National Academy of Medicine
  • Jane Henney, MD – National Academy of Medicine
  • Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH – University of Pennsylvania
  • The Honorable Michael O. Leavitt – Former Governor of Utah and Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • Ruth Parker, MD – Emory University School of Medicine
  • Lewis Sandy, MD – UnitedHealth Group
  • Leonard D. Schaeffer – University of Southern California
  • Glenn D. Steele, Jr., MD, PhD – xG Health Solutions
  • Pamela Thompson, MS, RN – American Organization of Nurse Executives and American Hospital Association
  • Elias Zerhouni, MD – Sanofi and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation


Return to Vital Directions homepageSee other NAM Special Publications

Join Our Community

Sign up for NAM email updates