ture, efforts need to be directed towards evaluating the usefulness of CAHPS and other types of comparative data and using those evaluations to improve both the substance and accessibility of the information presented.

In addition to examining and disclosing beneficiaries’ perceptions of care, AHRQ has funded efforts to compile and make publicly available comparative data on clinical quality. For example, AHRQ has published studies on the comparative performance of health plans in cardiac bypass graft surgery, use of beta blockers after heart attacks, and asthma management (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 1998).

Current efforts at AHRQ focus not only on improving the accessibility of publicly available information but also identifying elements of care that are significant to consumers and purchasers in decision-making. Because of evidence that the types of quality information currently available in the public domain are infrequently used by consumers and purchasers (Marshall et al., 2000), research is now focused on understanding the extent to which various stakeholders were aware of the publicly available quality information, and understood the information and found it relevant to the decisions they make. A great deal more research needs to be done in this area to support the efforts of the various government programs to provide useful information and reports to various stakeholders.

Responding to the interest in using financial and other incentives to improve care through performance measurement and public disclosure strategies, AHRQ participates in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s initiative, Rewarding Results: Aligning Incentives with High-Quality Health Care (National Institutes of Health, 2002b). Accordingly, AHRQ has issued a Request for Proposals to evaluate and analyze the impact of financial and nonfinancial incentives on improving the quality of care.

In response to a Congressional mandate, AHRQ is responsible for creating the National Quality Report, to be issued annually beginning in 2003. Developed in collaboration with the National Center for Health Statistics and other federal agencies, this report must identify areas in which health care is improving, declining, or remaining stable; provide evidence to identify care that requires more focused attention; and set forth national performance benchmarks. To develop the content and design of the report, AHRQ formed an interagency work group that includes representatives of CMS, NIH, CDC, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the National Cancer Institute, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (Reilly, 2001). This collaboration reflects AHRQ’s organizational and technical assistance experience in working with other agencies within DHHS.

Finally, AHRQ currently provides administrative support to the QuIC



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