For the 14th year in a row, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is reporting on health care quality and disparities. The annual National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (QDR) is mandated by Congress to provide a comprehensive overview of the quality of health care received by the general U.S. population and disparities in care experienced by different racial and socioeconomic groups. The report assesses the performance of our health care system and identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses, as well as disparities, for access to health care and quality of health care. Quality is described in terms of the National Quality Strategy priorities, which include patient safety, person-centered care, care coordination, effective treatment, healthy living, and care affordability. The report is based on more than 250 measures of quality and disparities covering a broad array of health care services and settings. Selected findings in each priority area are shown in this report, as are examples of large disparities, disparities worsening over time, and disparities showing improvement. The report is produced with the help of an Interagency Workgroup led by AHRQ.
The following are the key findings from the report:
- Access: While most access measures (65%) tracked in this report did not demonstrate significant improvement (2000-2014), uninsurance rates (measured as uninsured at the time of interview) decreased from 2010 to 2016.
- Quality: Quality of health care improved overall from 2000 through 2014-2015 but the pace of improvement varied by priority area:
- Person-Centered Care: About 80% of person-centered care measures improved overall.
- Patient Safety: Almost two-thirds of patient safety measures improved overall.
- Healthy Living: About 60% of healthy living measures improved overall.
- Effective Treatment: More than half of effective treatment measures improved overall.
- Care Coordination: About half of care coordination measures improved overall.
- Care Affordability: About 70% of care affordability measures did not change overall.
- Disparities: Overall, some disparities were getting smaller from 2000 through 2014-2015, but disparities persist, especially for poor and uninsured populations in all priority areas:
- While 20% of measures show disparities getting smaller for Blacks and Hispanics, most disparities have not changed significantly for any racial and ethnic groups.
- More than half of measures show that poor and low-income households have worse care than high-income households; for middle-income households, more than 40% of measures show worse care than high-income households.
- Nearly two-thirds of measures show that uninsured people had worse care than privately insured people.