10 Statistics on the State of Healthcare Quality, Equity

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality identified three major themes from its 2012 National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report.

The reports compile data on healthcare quality and disparities from more than 45 databases. "Three themes from the 2012 NHQR and NHDR emphasize the need to accelerate progress if the nation is to achieve higher quality and more equitable healthcare in the near future," the reports stated. Here are the three themes and supporting data from the reports:


1. Healthcare quality and access are suboptimal, especially for minority and low-income groups.

•    In 2009, Americans failed to receive an average of 30 percent of the care they needed to treat or prevent particular medical conditions.

•    In 2009, an average of 26 percent of Americans reported barriers that restricted their access to care.

•    Blacks received worse care (a difference of at least 10 percent) than whites, and Hispanics received worse care than non-Hispanic whites for about 40 percent of quality measures, based on data primarily from 2008, 2009 or 2010.

•    Poor and low-income people received worse care than high-income people for about 60 percent of quality measures; middle-income people received worse care for more than half the measures, based on data primarily from 2008, 2009 or 2010.

2. Overall quality is improving, access is getting worse and disparities are not changing.


•    In 2009, Americans failed to receive approximately 30 percent of healthcare services they should have received, compared with 34 percent in 2005.

•    In 2009, 26 percent of Americans had difficulties accessing healthcare, compared with 24 percent in 2002.

•    Few disparities in quality of care significantly improved; however, the number of disparities that were decreasing usually outnumbered the number of disparities that were increasing.

3. Urgent attention is warranted to ensure continued improvements in the quality of diabetes, maternal and child healthcare, and adverse events; disparities in cancer care; and quality of care among states in the South.

•    Of the 10 quality measures that are getting worse at the fastest pace, three relate to diabetes, two relate to maternal and child health and two relate to adverse events in healthcare facilities, based on data comparing measures from 2000-2002 with measures from 2008-2010.

•    Differences between blacks and whites in rates of advanced stage breast cancer increased from the period 2000-2002 to the period 2008-2010.

•    Based on 2011 data, states in the South Atlantic, East South Central and West South Central census divisions were most often in the bottom quartile for overall quality of care.

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