AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
Taking a Closer Look—State-by-State—at Health Care Quality
Earlier this year, AHRQ’s 2016 National Quality and Disparities Report showed that the overall quality of the Nation’s health care continued to improve from 2000 to 2015, but with the important caveat that quality of care was often uneven when measured between racial, ethnic, and income groups.
That wasn’t the end of the story, however.
Because the data in the report originated from more than 250 measures on quality and access to health care services taken from every State, AHRQ was able to develop detailed accounts of how each State performed in these important categories. The result: AHRQ’s recently released 2016 State Snapshots.
State Snapshots is an online tool that provides annual, State-by-State dashboards on health care quality. As in previous years, the resource offers granular, State-by-State analyses of variations in health care quality.
The yearly updates are especially valuable to State health care leaders and policymakers, who can use the data to review how their State compares according to achievable benchmarks. The resource identifies trends in health care quality and disparities in every State and the District of Columbia, an important first step before addressing gaps in the quality of care and access to services.
Trend data for most measures span from 2000 to 2014-15, except for select measures of access to care tracked through the second half of 2016. The newest calculations show that Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maine, and North Dakota were the Nation’s top-performing States when it comes to overall health care quality.
More detailed examples of specific quality measures illustrate the Snapshots’ breadth and specificity:
- Wisconsin had the lowest rate of post-operative sepsis.
- Hawaii had the highest access to a nephrologist for kidney failure.
- Maine had the highest percentage of toddlers with all recommended vaccines.
The Snapshots highlight quality improvement opportunities for even the top-performing States, however. In Wisconsin, for example, hospital admissions for preventable flu in adults age 65 and over were far from achievable benchmarks.
The updated scores for these quality measures, among thousands available in the State Snapshots, exemplify AHRQ’s ongoing commitment to developing a reliable and actionable inventory of health care data.
We are pleased to provide this State-specific information to guide quality improvement efforts, whether they’re undertaken by policymakers, health systems, public health advocates, or clinicians. Please take a look and see what the 2016 State Snapshots have to offer.
We’re already excited about what the Snapshots will show next year!
Karen Chaves is Director of the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report Program in AHRQ’s Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety.