Looking for more evidence of the stellar work being done in health care across the country? You’ll find it in the latest annual report on health care quality and disparities from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The agency’s report says health care quality continued to improve overall through 2015, with notable gains in patient safety and person-centered care. About 80% of the person-centered measures, two-thirds of the patient safety measures, 60% of the healthy living measures and half of the care coordination measures tracked in the report have improved since 2000, the agency said.
We see it as further confirmation of the progress hospitals are making in improving quality and safety as they pursue a unified vision of a society of healthy communities, where all individuals reach their highest potential for health. Making that vision a reality requires hard work. America’s hospitals have shown they are up to the job.
They are redesigning care in their facilities and finding practical ways to extend that care into their communities. Patient and family engagement is the new normal as hospitals encourage and empower them to take responsibility for their health. Hospitals are increasing the collection of race, ethnicity and language data and using it to identify ways to make care more equitable. They are instituting cultural competency training for all hospital staff members and taking steps to ensure their leadership reflects the diversity found in their community. They view community health as a collaborative endeavor.
In this new environment, patient care is a team effort. Hospitals are responding to the public’s desire for transparency by defining, measuring and reporting quality. In the process, they are revolutionizing the culture within their organizations, breaking down silos and bringing all kinds of caregivers together in a coordinated effort to improve performance. They are harnessing the power of evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes and lower costs, and are mastering the art of applying those care processes consistently.
There is much more to do. For example, the AHRQ report noted that disparities in care persist, especially for poor and low-income households and those without insurance. Make no mistake. We are on a journey where there is more road ahead of us than behind in reaching our goal of zero preventable harm. But the validating news in AHRQ’s report is most welcome. America’s hospitals are committed to continuing their hard work to make health and health care better for their patients and communities.