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AHRQ reports review quality of U.S. health care services and differences in use of these services for at-risk groups

In December 2004, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality released the first National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A recent article by Ed Kelley, Ph.D., Director of the NHQR project, and his AHRQ colleagues summarizes the main findings of the reports on preventive care. The reports track more than 50 primary and secondary prevention quality-of-care measures in five clinical areas: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, maternal and child health, and respiratory disease.

The purpose of the NHQR and NHDR, according to the Congressional mandate that directed AHRQ to prepare them, is to document the state of health care quality for the Nation. In addition, Dr. Kelley notes, these reports contribute to the quality improvement cycle by providing national information on the state of health care quality, potential benchmarks, and changes that have occurred over time to support a broad community of concerned quality improvement professionals.

The reports basically reach three major conclusions: first, the promise of high quality health care is not a given, second, gaps in quality are particularly acute for certain racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and third, improvement is possible.

For more details, see "Prevention health care quality in America: Findings from the first national healthcare quality and disparities reports," by Dr. Kelley, Ernie Moy, M.D., M.P.H., Beth Kosiak, Ph.D., Dan Stryer, M.D., and Carolyn Clancy, M.D., in the July 2004 Preventing Chronic Disease 1(3), pp. 1-5.

Reprints of the article (AHRQ Publication No. 04-R057) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Select for more information about NHQR and NHDR and to download the reports.

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