As Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, I've traveled to more than half of the States. We know from our State Snapshots that States can differ dramatically in health care disparities and quality, population risk factors, and more. Yet everywhere I go, I'm hearing more and more about a desire for transparency. People want to know more about the health care in their State and even in their county.
They want answers to questions like "Which hospitals have the lowest mortality rates after coronary bypass surgery?" and "Which hospitals perform the most hip replacement surgeries? And what is the cost?" At the county level, people are asking, "Which counties have the highest rates of hospitalization for uncontrolled diabetes? How much money could we save if these rates were reduced?" and "Which counties have the highest rates of lung cancer?"
In similar fashion, health care organizations, States, and counties want answers to such questions so they can identify at-risk populations, target care improvements, and reduce care costs. Hospitals, associations, and States are collecting substantial amounts of data on health care statistics that can help find answers to questions like these. ut making the data available for the public takes both time and money. For a State, hospital, or other organization to compile, analyze, and post data on the quality of hospital care, it is estimated to cost $300,000 or more. It could take a year to develop the Web site.
At AHRQ, we have a strong record of developing innovative quality indicators and hospital reporting tools. Now, we're starting to revolutionize how States and others report health care data publically or use it to improve health care quality.
MONAHRQ®, or "My Own Network Powered by AHRQ," is a free software application that significantly reduces the time needed to compile, analyze, and post data on the quality of hospital care, its cost, and how that care is used.
In March, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized MONAHRQ as one of the top six innovations. It feels good to be honored, but I'm finding the real satisfaction comes from knowing that more Americans can get valuable information to make better decisions for themselves and their families.
Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.