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AHRQ is spearheading the effort to develop a national report on health care quality

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will develop the first-ever annual report on the quality of health care in the United States. The report was called for in AHRQ's reauthorization legislation, which was enacted in December 1999. The report, which is due in 2003, will provide a clear, easily understood picture of the quality of health care in America and highlight areas where improvement is needed.

An expert committee convened by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) will identify the most important questions to answer in evaluating whether the health care system is providing high quality health care. These questions include:

  • The domains of information that should be produced.
  • Examples of specific measures that fall into each domain.
  • Methods for tracking improvements in quality over time.

The IOM expects to complete work on the report's framework by May 2001. Criteria for choosing measures of quality of care will be taken from existing measurement efforts. These include the National Committee for Quality Assurance's HEDIS project, standards published by the Joint Committee on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and information from Federal agencies and partners, such as the Health Care Financing Administration.

The project is being led by AHRQ in collaboration with the National Center for Health Statistics. An interagency work group will develop the final content and design of the report. Other members of the work group include the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Care Financing Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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