Benchmarking Database in which survey sponsors participate on a voluntary basis. The database currently includes data from over 900 health plans (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2001c).

AHRQ plays an important role in various interagency collaborative efforts. The agency is mandated by statute to provide coordination of quality improvement programs and activities among the various government health care programs. The primary vehicle for this purpose is the Quality Interagency Coordinating Committee (QuIC).2 The QuIC was established in 1998 to ensure that all federal agencies involved in regulating, purchasing, providing, or studying health care services coordinate their activities with the common goal of improving quality. The membership of the QuIC includes representation from within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) (i.e., CMS, IHS and AHRQ), DOD, VHA, and numerous other federal agencies (see Chapter 4). The QuIC has work groups on issues such as providing consumer information, measuring quality, improving clinical quality, developing the work force, and improving information systems (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2001a).

Lastly, AHRQ leads an interagency initiative started in 2000 to address patient safety concerns (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2001b). The Patient Safety Task Force includes representatives of AHRQ, CMS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Food and Drug Administration. The goals of the task force are to (1) coordinate the collection and analysis of safety-related data across various government programs; (2) exchange information on patient safety reporting and practices with other public-and private-sector initiatives; (3) disseminate analyses to health care providers and others; and (4) carry out research, programs, and projects that will improve patient safety.


There are, of course, important differences across the government health care programs in the roles played by the federal government and the degree of emphasis placed on any individual role in influencing qual-


Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999, Title IX of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 299 et seq.). The QuIC has enjoyed the support of many governmental health care programs. Its principal mission is to enable federal health care programs to coordinate their quality improvement activities. The QuIC’s work is financially supported and staffed by the participating federal agencies—the Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services, Deartment of Labor, Federal Bureau of Prisons, Federal Trade Commission, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, United States Coast Guard, and Veterans Administration.

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