Quality improvement slowing down

The lede:

The pace of health care quality improvement appears to be slowing, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s fifth annual report compiling federal and state data on more than 200 quality metrics.

A composite measure of health care quality improved at a 2.3% average annualized rate between 1994 and 2005, with the rate falling to 1.5% from 2000 to 2005. And in a first stab at examining the cost efficiency of the American health care system, AHRQ noted that costs, as estimated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, jumped 6.7% from 1994 to 2005.

AHRQ, part of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, said in its March report that cost and quality cannot be reliably compared because “expenditures are comprehensively measured, but quality is not.” Still, experts said, the new report represents another high-profile effort to link cost and quality.

The whole shebang.