Nursing homes trail hospitals in quality improvement, AHRQ report shows

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About 60% of nursing home quality measures have been showing significant year-to-year improvement, but hospitals have been improving more quickly, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

"The intense national focus on quality improvement in hospitals is starting to pay off, but much work remains to make sure that all Americans have access to high-quality care in every setting,” AHRQ Director Richard Kronick, Ph.D., said Friday, in announcing the 11th annual edition of the “National Healthcare Quality Report.”

Home health and hospice also had about a 60% rate of improvement, the report shows. Ambulatory care providers lagged, with only about half of their quality measures improving.

For most measures, the most recent trend data came from the 2010 to 2011 period, meaning the report does not reflect changes that have occurred since the major components of the Affordable Care Act have taken effect, the authors noted. The report includes data on hundreds of quality measures, but analysts only looked at those groups with at least four years of data when calculating which have been improving. If a measure was found to be moving in a favorable direction at a rate exceeding 1% per year, it was considered to be improving

Nursing home resident vaccination rates and pain levels were newly included in this year's report. In 2011, 89.5% of long-stay residents received a flu vaccination, 93.3% were given pneumococcal immunization, and 14.7% reported moderate to severe pain.

These statistics were calculated from Minimum Data Set information. The switch to the MDS 3.0 in 2011 means that these statistics are not comparable to previous figures, the report notes.

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