Hospital care quality rising, but disparities continue

According to a new report released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), three themes emerge emphasizing the need to accelerate progress if the Nation is to achieve high quality health care, and reflect that huge challenges remain:

•· Health care quality is suboptimal and continues to improve at a slow pace of approximately 3%;

•· Reporting of hospital quality is leading improvement, but patient safety is lagging; and

•· Although health care quality measurement is evolving, much work remains.


The information amassed for the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) since its inception is a growing knowledge base that addresses two critically important questions:

•· What is the status of health care quality in the United States?

•· How is the quality of the health care delivered to Americans changing over time?


The NHQR is built on 220 measures categorized across four dimensions of quality: effectiveness, patient safety, timeliness, and patient centeredness. Guided by a subcommittee of AHRQ’s National Advisory Council and an HHS Interagency Work Group,i this year’s report focuses on the state of health care quality for a group of 45 core report measures that represent the most important and scientifically credible measures of quality for the Nation.


According to an associated report on health care disparities, also released today, at least 60% of quality measures have not improved for minorities compared to whites in the past six years.


(SOURCE: AHA News Now,, May 6, 2009; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,, May6, 2009)