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Agency for Healthcare Research Quality www.ahrq.gov
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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 It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work.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: https://info.ahrq.gov. Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to www.ahrq.gov for current information.

Finding Quality Information

Today, you can find a great deal of information about health care quality, both online and in print. New tools and resources for assessing and improving health care quality are being developed and will be available soon.

Meanwhile, here is a brief look at what is available now. Select for more resources.

Report Cards

Reports cards and other quality reports include consumer ratings, clinical performance measures, or both. They can help you select the right treatment and the right health care provider based on what is most important to you. You may be able to get quality reports from:

  • Your employer: Ask your personnel office for information on health plans.
  • Health plans: Ask the plan's customer service office about quality reports.
  • Other health care providers: Hospitals, nursing homes, and community health clinics may have quality reports.

Several government agencies publish quality reports and other types of quality information.

  • For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a quality tool that helps you compare the care provided by hospitals in your area. This tool is available online at http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.
  • Another Web site (http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/home.asp) provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has detailed information on the past performance of every Medicare- and Medicaid-certified nursing home in the country.

Accreditation

Accreditation is another indicator that can be used to judge quality. Accreditation is a "seal of approval" given by a private, independent group. Health care organizations—such as hospitals—must meet national standards, including clinical performance measures, in order to be accredited. Select for a list of organizations that award accreditation.

Accreditation reports present quality information on hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities. For example, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) prepares a performance report on each hospital that it surveys. Another group, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), rates health plans like HMOs. NCQA's Health Plan Report Card presents accreditation results for hundreds of health plans across the country. Select for Web addresses and basic information on JCAHO, NCQA, and other organizations.

If you need help in finding quality reports, accreditation reports, or other types of quality information, check with your local library or your local or State health department. You can find your State health department listed in the blue pages of your phone book.

Consumer Ratings

Consumer ratings tell you what other people like you think about their health care. Some consumer ratings focus on health plans. For example, a survey called CAHPS® asks people about the quality of care in their own health plans. Their answers can help you decide whether you want to join one of those plans.

Hospital CAHPS (HCAHPS®) will be released for the first time in 2006. It will ask patients about their experiences with hospital care.



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