News Briefs

HHS reports on quality disparities in the U.S.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has released two reports that represent the first national, comprehensive effort to measure the quality of health care in America and differences in access to health care services for priority populations.

The National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report, provide baseline views of the quality of health care and differences in use of the services.

Future reports will help the nation make continuous improvements by tracking quality through a consistent set of measures that will be updated as new measures and data become available.

The reports are available on a new web site: www.qualitytools.ahrq.gov. Print copies of the reports also can be obtained by calling (800) 358-9295. E-mail: ahrqpubs@ahrq.gov.

NQF launches outpatient quality initiative

The National Quality Forum (NQF) has begun a four-year initiative to identify voluntary consensus standards for measuring the quality of outpatient care, including care delivered in physicians’ offices and freestanding or hospital-based outpatient facilities. The project will seek national consensus on standardized ways to assess the quality of ambulatory primary and specialty care consistent with its national quality framework. NQF expects to complete the first phase of the project, funded by a $300,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in nine months.

Phase one involves a literature review and assessment of available and needed measures, after which the group expects to publish a report on those findings.