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Chapter 1. Introduction and Methods
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 (NHQR) 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 National Healthcare Quality Report, released in 2003, was a comprehensive national overview of the quality of health care received by the general U.S. population. The second NHQR developed a second critical goal of the report series—tracking the Nation's quality improvement progress.
This third NHQR meets these goals more completely and rigorously. New databases and measures are added to provide a more comprehensive assessment of health care quality in the Nation. While the 2005 report aims to include more data, efforts have been made to make this growing body of information more understandable. Thus, the most important and scientifically supported measures—identified as core report measures—have been selected from the full NHQR measure set; this year's report begins annual tracking of these measures. Guided by a panel of experts, development of many new composite measures has also begun, and four are included in this report.
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