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2011 National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Reports

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has issued its ninth annual reports on the both the quality and disparities in health care. The goals of the reports were threefold:

  1. Address the status of health care quality and disparities in the U.S.
  2. Assess how quality and disparities have changed over time
  3. Show where there is need for improvement in quality and equity of health care

The reports used about 250 measures as benchmarks. The Quality report looked at overall quality measures for the nation, while the Disparities report looked at quality and access for racial, ethnic, and low-income groups or other populations such as rural residents, those with disabilities, and the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender population. The Quality report showed improvement in about three-quarters of the measures for acute illness or injury, and in about half the areas for preventive care and chronic disease management. The Disparities report found improvement in half the areas related to access, but 40% of the access measures worsened from previous reports.

Both reports looked at performance indicators for these areas:

Effectiveness of care for

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Maternal and child health
  • Mental health and substance abuse
  • Musculoskeletal diseases
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Lifestyle modification
  • Functional status preservation and rehabilitation
  • Supportive and palliative care

Patient safety
Patient centeredness
Care coordination
Health systems infrastructure
Access to care

For each of the areas above, the report explains its importance to quality care, the performance measures used for assessment, and the findings.

Care coordination and health systems infrastructure were newly added to this year’s reports. To assess progress on care coordination, the performance assessment focused on transitions of care, integration of information, hospital readmissions, medication information, and preventable emergency department visits. On health system infrastructure, the report looks at use of electronic health records, workforce distribution, and the health care safety net.

Source: 2011 National healthcare quality & disparities reports. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Mar. 2012. http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/qrdr11.htm

Posted by AHA Resource Center, (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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