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New Publication Helps Consumers Understand and Get Quality Health Care

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Press Release Date: September 15, 2005

HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality today released a new publication, Guide to Health Care Quality: How To Know It When You See It, to help consumers identify high-quality health care. This booklet is part of AHRQ's new consumer education campaign to help people take a more active role in their own health care.

The Guide to Health Care Quality includes steps that consumers can take to improve their quality of care. It explains the difference between clinical measures and consumer ratings. Clinical measures, such as those in AHRQ's National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report, are used to track and improve the quality of care provided by doctors, hospitals, and other providers. While clinical measures can be used to assess quality of care, consumer ratings can indicate how satisfied people are with their health care. The booklet also lists Web sites and phone numbers for selected organizations and other resources.

"Getting quality health care means different things to different people; some people believe that getting quality health care is synonymous with good customer service," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "While this is important, quality clinical care is even more important. Quality clinical care means receiving the proper treatments, screenings, and prescriptions, as well as being notified promptly about test results and receiving support at the right time."

Dr. Clancy released this booklet today in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at the first in a series of town hall sessions with consumers. The purpose of these meetings is to educate consumers about health care quality issues and what they can do to improve their own quality of care.

The new booklet can be found online at Free single copies of the Guide to Health Care Quality: How To Know It When You See It are available by calling the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at (800) 358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1244 or (301) 427-1865.


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