The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality should produce a National Health Care Quality Report that will attract the attention and interest of policy makers, consumers, purchasers, providers, researchers, and other audiences. For some of these audiences, particularly policy makers, the findings should be “actionable.” Currently, health care quality issues are poorly understood and receive little notice. The National Health Care Quality Report can become an important tool to promote a better understanding of health care quality, generate support for improvement, and highlight areas that need special attention.
To accomplish these goals, AHRQ should make the Quality Report relevant, engaging, easy to read, and easy to understand. Producing different reports for different audiences is an important and feasible way to do this. The print versions should be brief, be aimed at key audiences, and summarize key findings. Different versions of the report should be available on a web site tailored to specialized audiences as well as to the general public. While the Quality Report or family of reports should be focused and selective, it should draw on a comprehensive National Quality Report Data Set covering all aspects of quality as discussed in Chapter 4. This annual data set should also be available publicly on the Web in an accessible format to the extent feasible. The committee understands that some of the files will be made available only to researchers, and that other files containing extremely sensitive or identifying information will not be released at all in order to protect confidentiality.
Like the data set, the Quality Report should be produced annually as defined by law (Healthcare Research and Quality Act, 1999). The specific elements of the data set should be relatively stable in order to track changes in quality, although data may not have to be collected every year for every measure. In contrast, measures included in the Quality Report may vary from year to year based on the key findings selected, although some will be repeated from time to time to show changes in specific aspects of quality over time.
The report should not overwhelm either general or specialized audiences with information about health care quality. Instead, the content should be highly selective, relevant to current policy concerns, and fresh from year to year, even while preserving some continuity. Furthermore, the format employed should be designed so that differences across regions or groups and trends in health care quality are easily discernible.
The committee identified several groups of people or audiences that should be the focus of the Quality Report. Because audiences have different roles to play in supporting health care quality, the report must provide them with the kinds of information that meet their particular interests and needs. Audiences for the report include members of Congress and other policy makers in national and