AHRQ Launches New Web-Based Quality Measures Resource
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently launched a Web-based National Quality Measures Clearinghouse that will provide physicians, hospitals, health plans, and others with the most current evidence-based quality measures and measure sets available to evaluate and improve the quality of health care. The Web site,www.qualitymeasures.ahrq.gov, allows users to search the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse for measures that target a disease or condition, treatment or intervention, age range, gender, vulnerable population, setting of care, or contributing organization. The site also allows users to compare attributes of two or more quality measures to determine which measures best fit their needs, and provides material on how to select, use, apply, and interpret a measure. This Web site will be part of a larger Web site of quality, clinical information, and decision tool components that will include the National Guideline Clearinghouse atwww.guideline.gov. For more information on the criteria for submitting quality measures to be considered for inclusion in the National Quality Measures Clearinghouse, go online towww.qualitymeasures.ahrq.gov/contact/coninclusion.aspx.
CDC Report Shows Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Stroke Mortality
According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), geographic disparities in the number of stroke deaths vary significantly among racial and ethnic groups, including blacks being 1.4 times more likely to die of a stroke than whites, and more than twice as likely as Hispanics and Native Americans to die of a stroke. It also showed that blacks were more likely to die of stroke at an earlier age, with almost 50 percent of stroke deaths occurring before the age of 75 years, compared with 45 percent among Asians and Pacific Islanders, and 25 percent among whites. The report, Atlas of Stroke Mortality, provides national and state maps depicting disparities in county-level stroke death rates from 1991 to 1998 for adults age 35 years and older in the five largest racial and ethnic groups in the United States (blacks, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asians and Pacific Islanders, Hispanics, and whites). The Atlas reports that the overall stroke death rates for adults age 35 years and older was 121 per 100,000. The Atlas of Stroke Mortality is the third in a series of CDC atlases on cardiovascular diseases. For a free copy of the report, call 888–232–2306. To view interactive maps of stroke mortality or download sections of the report, visitwww.cdc.gov.
FDA Initiative to Improve Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Practices
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced the completion of the first phase of objectives of its initiative to modernize the agency's regulation of pharmaceutical manufacturing and product quality. Some of the objectives that have been achieved include the following: clarifying the scope of the FDA's electronic submission and record-keeping requirements; facilitating continuous improvement and innovation in manufacturing by allowing manufacturers to make certain types of changes in their processes without previous FDA approval; launching a program to identify and address inconsistencies across program areas; focusing FDA resources on inspections that will have the greatest public health impact; and enhancing the agency's expertise in pharmaceutical technologies by hiring additional experts and collaborating with academic groups and external experts. Long-term goals of the initiative include the following: ensuring that state-of-the-art pharmaceutical science is used in the regulatory review and inspection policies; encouraging the adoption of new technologic advances in high-quality and efficient manufacturing by the pharmaceutical industry; strengthening public health protection by implementing risk-based approaches; and enhancing the consistency and coordination of the FDA's drug quality oversight activities. The initiative, “Pharmaceutical Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) for the 21st Century: A Risk Based Approach,” was designed to evaluate and improve the agency's approach to reviews and inspections related to the manufacturing of human and animal drugs, and biologics. This initiative is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson's broader efforts to improve and streamline the regulatory process to improve Americans' access to quality health care and services.
HHS to Improve Quality of Care by Providing Home Health Quality Information
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson has announced an initiative to improve the quality of care provided by home health agencies by reporting quality information about these agencies to the persons who rely on Medicare and Medicaid programs. HHS' Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will begin the first phase of this initiative this spring in eight states (Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and West Virginia) by publishing the quality information of home health agencies in these states to increase awareness of how performance differs across agencies and to help stimulate home health agency quality improvement. This information will be available in newspapers in the eight states and online atwww.medicare.gov and will be promoted through CMS' local Quality Improvement Organizations. The public reporting will be based on 11 quality measures, including four measures related to improvement of patient mobility (i.e., walking, getting in and out of bed, and using the toilet without assistance); four measures related to improvement in meeting daily basic needs (i.e., bathing, dressing, and taking daily medicines); two measures related to medical emergencies; and one measure related to improvement in mental health. Throughout 2003, CMS will refine and expand the initiative to include quality information for home health agencies in all 50 states.