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Chapter 1. Introduction and Methods
Purpose and Goals
This is the second annual National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR). In its reauthorization legislation, Congress directed the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to produce an annual report on health care quality in the United States (Section 913(b)(2) of the Public Health Service Act as amended by Public Law 106-129). The National Healthcare Quality Report was designed and produced by AHRQ, with support from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and private-sector partners, to respond to this legislative mandate.
The first NHQR was issued in December 2003. This second annual report builds on the first year "baseline" report and tracks trends and progress in health care quality. The purpose of the report is to measure the state of health care quality, and thereby contribute to improvements in care for all Americans. In addition to summarizing changes in health care quality in the Nation, data in the 2004 report provide insight into opportunities for improvement in care. Finally, ongoing work on the NHQR measure set continues to allow HHS to aid in the long-term goal of aligning quality measurement efforts.