How good is the quality of health care in the United States? Is quality improving? Or is it suffering? While the average person on the street can follow the state of the economy with economic indicators, we do not have a tool that allows us to track trends in health care quality. Beginning in 2003, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will produce an annual report on the national trends in the quality of health care delivery in the United States. AHRQ commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to help develop a vision for this report that will allow national and state policy makers, providers, consumers, and the public at large to track trends in health care quality. Envisioning the National Health Care Quality Report offers a framework for health care quality, specific examples of the types of measures that should be included in the report, suggestions on the criteria for selecting measures, as well as advice on reaching the intended audiences. Its recommendations could help the national health care quality report to become a mainstay of our nation s effort to improve health care.