For the ninth year in a row, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has produced the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) and the National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR). These reports measure trends in effectiveness of care, patient safety, timeliness of care, patient centeredness, and efficiency of care. New this year are chapters on care coordination, health system infrastructure. The reports present, in chart form, the latest available findings on quality of and access to health care.
The National Healthcare Quality Report tracks the health care system through quality measures, such as the percentage of heart attack patients who received recommended care when they reached the hospital or the percentage of children who received recommended vaccinations. The National Healthcare Disparities Report summarizes health care quality and access among various racial, ethnic, and income groups and other priority populations, such as residents of rural areas and people with disabilities.
The latest National Healthcare Disparities Report shows that access to health care was not improving for most racial and ethnic groups in the years 2002 through 2008 leading up to enactment of the Affordable Care Act.
The data contained in the National Healthcare Disparities Report and the companion National Healthcare Quality Report predate the Affordable Care Act; however, some provisions in the new health care law are aimed at improving health care quality and addressing health care disparities. The HHS Action Plan to Reduce Health Disparities, announced in April 2011, outlines goals and actions HHS will take to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities, building on important efforts made possible by the Affordable Care Act and other ongoing private-sector and state-led initiatives.
To read more about the findings of the National Healthcare Disparities Report, click here.