At a Glance

First AHRQ Summit on Improving Quality of Care

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's summit on improving the Nation's health care quality was held on April 4, 2005. This summary highlights the key speakers and panel presentations.


AHRQ's first summit on improving the Nation's health care quality took place Monday, April 4, 2005, at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. More than 250 people attended the all-day event, including many health policy experts from the Washington area.

Attendees at "Improving Health Care Quality for All Americans—Celebrating Success, Measuring Progress, Moving Forward" heard speakers including:

The Summit included three panel presentations:

Key Themes

Key themes that emerged were:

Presentation Overviews

AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy pointed out that fundamental quality problems persist, with a stubborn gap between what is known to work and what is practiced. Many recent strides have been made, including the release of Medicare's "Hospital Compare" and AHRQ's National Healthcare Quality Report and National Healthcare Disparities Report. However, quality remains "stubbornly short of where we want it to be, agonizingly short of where we know it could be, and still slow and sporadic in making improvement."

Dr. Clancy also presented a "Quality Challenge" based on a new attitude and a "new formula for giving our best." She identified the elements of the Quality Challenge as candor, comparison, consequences, courage, cooperation, and communication. She announced a new AHRQ $1 million initiative—AHRQ QualityConnect—to help uncover what works and share "lessons learned" with those at the frontline of improvement. Select for the Full Text of the speech, or select for a video presentation.

Donald Berwick of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement said "the lights are coming on" with new awareness of quality problems, but that this shows even more glaringly where gaps exist. He said health care quality in the United States lags significantly behind that of other major democracies, and current theories for quality improvement in America are inadequate. He called for:

  1. Transparency of information.
  2. Specific goals for improvement.
  3. Technical help for providers.
  4. Involvement of top leadership, including the board of directors level in the health care sector.

The IHI's "100,000 Lives" campaign aims at improvement in six specific areas, with a June 14, 2006 deadline. More than 1,000 hospitals are already committed to the initiative.

Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee talked about the importance of disease prevention and health promotion, describing his personal experiences in taking responsibility for his health. At 280 pounds (110 pounds more than today), with high blood pressure and a diagnosis of diabetes, his doctor told him he wouldn't live another decade. He learned healthier habits of nutrition and exercise and ultimately was able to complete a marathon.

Relating his situation to the welfare of his State, he launched a "Healthier Arkansas" initiative, especially aimed at developing better health habits for young people. The initiative includes payments for preventive services and even measurement of body mass index for school children, especially to help them and their parents understand future health implications from unhealthy behaviors.

Panel Summaries

Promising Quality Improvement Initiatives: Reports From the Field

Eliminating Health Care Disparities

Promising National Initiatives

Current as of April 2005

Internet Citation:

First AHRQ Summit on Improving Quality of Care: At a Glance. April 2005. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

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