This chapter has detailed a variety of shortcomings in health care quality and disparities data. First, national
data are often removed from the clinical setting. Although surveys and administrative databases are enormously valuable, measuring outcomes often requires detailed clinical data collected at the point of care. Second, national data are not available on all measures of health care priority areas, including measures of care coordination, efficiency, and Health IT. And finally, high-quality data on race, ethnicity, language need, SES, and insurance status are not always available for stratifying quality metrics and assessing disparities.
The committee finds that these limitations can be addressed by AHRQ in several ways—showcasing subnational datasets in the reports when they illustrate measurement opportunities; noting when shortcomings in data exist so attention can be focused on filling them; and supporting measures and data source development for the future through its research agenda, whether by collaboration or direct funding.
Efforts are under way to institute national standards for Health IT, performance measurement, and data aggregation and exchange that complement local data collection and experiences with performance improvement and reporting (Roski, 2009). AHRQ has the opportunity to exhibit leadership on the content for national reporting that should be embedded in the nation's health care data infrastructure. The committee envisions AHRQ providing information in the NHQR and NHDR that not only monitors where the nation currently stands in terms of measurement and data capacity, but also where the Nation can go.
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