At present, the national healthcare reports and related products are consulted by a variety of stakeholders, many of which have different interest areas (e.g., heart disease, rural health, racial disparities, delivery settings) and different levels of sophistication for data interpretation and analysis. The 2001 IOM report Envisioning the National Health Care Quality Report stated that the NHQR was not to be a “single static report, but rather a collection of annual reports tailored to the needs and interests of particular constituencies” (IOM, 2001, p. 6). The committee believes that AHRQ needs to expand and refine its quality reporting product line to provide products and data that are useful and understandable for a variety of audiences. Therefore, the committee recommends the following:

Recommendation 6: AHRQ should ensure that the content and presentation of its national healthcare reports and related products (print and online) become more actionable, advance recognition of equity as a quality of care issue, and more closely match the needs of users by:

  • incorporating priority areas, goals, benchmarks, and links to promising practices;

  • redesigning print and online versions of the NHQR and NHDR to be more integrated by recognizing disparities in the NHQR and quality benchmarks in the NHDR;

  • taking advantage of online capability to build customized fact sheets and mini-reports; and

  • enhancing access to the data sources for the reports.

The committee’s suggested products, along with their potential audiences, are reviewed in Table 6-1.

Refining the Organization of the NHQR and NHDR

Integrating efforts to improve quality with efforts to eliminate disparities increases opportunities to positively affect change. Presenting the same organizational framework and measures in both reports reinforces users’ understanding of the relationship between overall health care quality and the depth of health care disparities. But currently, the two reports are not well linked beyond presenting the same measures.

Changing the Highlights Section of the Reports

The committee proposes that AHRQ present the same Highlights section in both the NHQR and NHDR to underscore the relationship between health care quality and equity. The text of the Highlights section should be developed so that the section can be published as a stand-alone document that could be the subject of dissemination events targeted to relevant stakeholder audiences. The document could:

  • Spotlight areas with the greatest potential for quality improvement impact and provide detail on what the value of closing quality gaps would be to population health and equity.

  • Feature progress on priority areas and toward any established national goals.

  • Discuss evidence-based policies and best practices that may enhance quality improvement or factors that hinder progress as informed by data within the body of the report.

  • Emphasize takeaway messages directed to different audiences (e.g., policy makers, health care providers, and the public) on what they can do to improve health care quality on prioritized topics and measures.

  • Include a summary of state performance and the state of disparities.

The committee believes that a summary of state performance should be part of the Highlights section of the reports and would be of interest to legislators and policy makers at the state and national levels. A one- to two-page summary of state performance, perhaps in a scorecard fashion, should be included, and AHRQ could compile this from the information it already provides in the State Snapshots (e.g., ratings from very strong to very weak on overall health care quality, preventive measures, acute care measures, chronic measures, hospital care measures, cancer care measures). Currently, the State Snapshots are not available until several months after the reports have

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