Recommendation 10: The Secretary of HHS should establish a timetable for all states to report on a core set of standardized measures that can be used in the health information technology infrastructure to assess health and health care quality for children and adolescents. Congress and HHS should formulate alternative strategies (through incentive awards, demonstration grants, and technical assistance, for example) that would enable states to develop the necessary data sources and analyses to meet such requirements.
The direction of policy and resources toward improving the health and health care quality of children and adolescents in recent years is an encouraging sign that the distinct needs and health priorities of these populations are being recognized. Opportunities are available now to incorporate these needs and priorities into emerging population wide health care quality initiatives while also enhancing separate data collection and analysis and research initiatives that address the unique characteristics and developmental requirements of these younger populations. Exploiting these opportunities will require strong national and state-based leadership. Much can be done with existing efforts, supplemented by modest additional resources, to go beyond traditional boundaries to incorporate data elements that can deepen our understanding of the complex interactions among health, health care quality, and the social determinants of health. Innovations in technology and data gathering methods enhance the potential to develop new measures that can inform our understanding of important health disparities, preventable health conditions, and the social determinants of health and enable a life-course approach to the assessment of health and health care quality for our nation’s youth.