AHRQ's Updated 'Snapshots' Show State-by-State Health Performance

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality on March 26 released its 2007 "State Snapshots," an annual analysis of each state's performance in health care delivery areas based on rate of obesity, health insurance coverage, mental illness, the number of practicing specialist doctors, and other measures (or "state contextual factors"). The updated Web tool also tracks individual states' progress toward reaching government-set health goals for 2010.

"This year's State Snapshots do more than illustrate the wide variations in health care quality among States," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "They also show a handful of the important challenges that states face as they work to improve the quality of care."

As in previous years, the 51 state snapshots--for every state plus Washington, D.C.--summarize health care quality in three dimensions: type of care (such as preventive, acute or chronic care), setting of care (such as nursing homes or hospitals), and by clinical areas (such as care for patients with cancer or diabetes). The evaluations are expressed in simple, five-color "performance meter" illustrations that rate performance from "very weak" to "very strong." Users may explore whether a state has improved or worsened compared to other states in several areas of health care delivery.

The state portraits include 149 separate measures of quality. Those measures range from preventing pressure sores to screening for diabetes-related foot problems to giving recommended care to pneumonia patients. In addition, the snapshots provide state rankings for 15 "selected measures." These rankings show that no state does well or poorly in all areas. Texas, for example, ranked 4th best at minimizing nursing home patients' pressure sores but 41st on vaccinating older people against pneumonia. Ohio ranked 7th for its high percentage of pregnant women who received prenatal care but 46th for its high rate of breast cancer deaths. New Mexico ranked 4th best on improving the mobility of nursing home residents but 50th for its low number of heart attack patients who received the right medications at hospital discharge.

The state snapshots are based on data drawn from more than 30 sources, including government surveys, health care facilities, and health care organizations. To access this year's tool, go to: http://statesnapshots.ahrq.gov/snaps07/index.jsp.

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