New Health Disparities Resources

In April 2016, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) published the 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (QDR) and 5th Anniversary Update on the National Quality Strategy (NQS). For the first time, these reports are combined into the 2015 QDR and NQS Report  a “single document that describes the nation’s progress in improving health care access, quality, and disparities.” 

The annual QDR offers a complete overview of the quality of health care for the general U.S. population and various racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups and it measures trends across numerous quality and performance indicators.  It also offers “chartbooks” that present the latest findings on quality of and access to health care.  

Published in February 2016, the 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report chartbook on health care for Blacks reports on patterns in health care for Black populations related to priorities of the Heckler Report, access to health care, and priorities of the NQS. Findings of the chartbook indicate that Blacks continue to fare worse than Whites in terms of access to health care and quality of health care received, especially with regard to person-centeredness and care coordination. The chartbooks calls for “enhanced access to needed preventive primary care and specialty medical services” that can lead to better physical and mental health.

QDR data supports the NQS, which has now been established for 5 years. The NQS looks to “[increase] access to high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans” by achieving better care, healthy people/healthy communities, and affordable care. These three aims are further reinforced by six priority areas including person- and family-centered care and care coordination.  

Overall, the joint QDR and NQS report demonstrates a drastic improvement in access to care. In terms of quality of health care, person-centered measures have improved while care coordination measures have disappointingly trailed behind other priority areas in performance. Despite some progress being made, racial and social economic disparities persist across both access to and quality of health care.

In efforts to eliminate health disparities, improve quality, and promote health equity, the Office of Minority Health has recently released The CLAS Compendium of State-Sponsored National CLAS Standards Implementation Activities and the Tracking CLAS Tool. These resources help individuals and health/health care organizations provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) and learn about out how others are doing the same.

Through these resources and reports that outline our health care system’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals, we have at least started the process of achieving better health for all Americans.

 

Posted June 2016