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Selected research from leading health care experts whose findings have a direct bearing on public policies effecting medical progress. Research is chosen based on its quality and relevance by the Medical Progress Today editorial staff.

Selected Research

The State of Health Care Quality
National Center for Quality Assurance, 9-27-06

This report underscores one of the longstanding problems of American health care—poor collection of information on health care outcomes and quality–and suggests how this problem can be remedied.

This year's report marks the tenth year that NCQA has reported on the state of health care quality to the American people. A powerful thread emerges from the 10 years of collecting, analyzing and reporting quality data: measurement leads to quality improvement.

To best demonstrate the long–term transformative effects of measurement and public reporting it is useful to examine the trends of quality measures over the duration of the measure. Such examination uncovers startling improvements: for example, in 2005, children enrolled in commercial health plans were nearly three times as likely to have received all recommended immunizations as they were eight years ago. Patients with diabetes are now more than twice as likely to have their cholesterol controlled to recommended levels as they were in 1998.

And perhaps the most dramatic success story is that of beta-blocker treatment: in 2005, more than 96 percent of patients who suffered a heart attack were prescribed beta–blockers to help prevent a second, and often fatal, heart attack, up from only 62 percent in 1996. This improvement alone has saved between 4,200 and 5,300 lives over the past 10 years.

Performance rates on several key dimensions of care have not only substantially improved over the past decade, but in many cases undesirable variation among plans has decreased, resulting in more consistent quality for patients no matter what plan they belong to.



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