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  • Washington Highlights

    AHRQ Report Shows Disparities Persist Despite Overall Improvements in Quality and Access

    Philip Alberti, Senior Director, Health Equity Research and Policy

    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Sept. 10 released the 2018 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report.

    The 16th annual report tracks 250 health care process, outcome, and access measures and presents trends from 2000 to 2017 related to health care quality and care disparities. Since 2003, AHRQ has been congressionally mandated to report on progress and challenges to achieving health care equity in the United States.

    According to the 2018 report, while almost all quality priority areas improved overall — for example, 70% of person-centered care measures and 60% of patient safety measures improved from 2000 to 2017 — few gains were seen in quality and access disparities. Specifically, for all quality measures with racial/ethnic disparities in the baseline year of 2000, only 6-10% had narrowed by 2017, with the overwhelming majority remaining unchanged. Blacks, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders received worse care than whites for 40% of measures assessed, than Hispanics for 35%, and than Asians for 27%.