Health care helps people stay healthy, recover from illness, live with chronic disease or disability, and cope with dying. Quality health care delivers these services in a way that is safe, timely, patient centered, efficient, and equitable. Unfortunately, Americans too often do not receive care that they need or they receive care that causes harm. Care can be delivered too late or without full consideration of a patient’s preferences and values. Many times, our system of health care distributes services inefficiently and unevenly across populations.
Each year since 2003, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), together with its partners in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has reported on progress and opportunities for improving health care quality, as mandated by the U.S. Congress. The information amassed for the National Healthcare Quality Report (NHQR) since its inception is a growing knowledge base that addresses two critically important questions:
◆ What is the status of health care quality in the United States?
◆ How is the quality of the health care delivered to Americans changing over time?