Your browser doesn't support JavaScript. Please upgrade to a modern browser or enable JavaScript in your existing browser.
Skip Navigation U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Agency for Healthcare Research Quality

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Using Measures to Evaluate Care

Health care measures help us to determine whether services are being provided appropriately and at the right time.

For example, we know that:

  • It is important to check whether a person's blood pressure is high because high blood pressure can lead to heart disease.
  • A patient who is admitted to the hospital with a heart attack should be given aspirin and a betablocker.

Clinical performance measures and consumer ratings are the two main types of quality measures. These measures are used to check up on and improve the quality of health care provided by doctors, hospitals, and other providers, including nursing homes, community clinics, and health plans.

Most measures described here are from the National Healthcare Quality Report. Both that report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report are published annually by AHRQ. Those reports and print copies of Guide to Health Care Quality—How to Know It When You See It are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse (phone: 1-800-358-9295; E-mail

Other Quality Improvement Efforts

In addition to the quality measures and other tools discussed here and used in the National Healthcare Quality Report, many other government and private organizations have developed measures and tools for assessing health care quality. These include report cards, consumer ratings, and accreditation reports. Select for a list of resources on quality assessment and improvement.














Previous Section Previous Section         Contents                                  


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care