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2022 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report

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AHRQ released their annual publication of the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (NHQDR)—a Congressionally mandated summary of health and healthcare delivery status in the United States. The newly released 2022 NHQDR is the most comprehensive yearly account of the state of American healthcare.

As in the past, the newest NHQDR highlights areas in which the healthcare delivery system has made important advances. Mortality from HIV/AIDS, for example, has declined steadily since early 2000. Significant improvements have occurred for people receiving care at home. And decades of basic and clinical research have yielded many effective ways to prevent or treat breast cancer. Between 2000 and 2020, the breast cancer death rate decreased by approximately 29 percent.

But the NHQDR also documents many troubling trends in healthcare quality and delivery. To begin with, life expectancy declined by 1.8 years in 2020 compared with 2019. The decline was more remarkable for Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black people than non-Hispanic White people. The sharp drop in life expectancy is partly due to the outsized impact of COVID-19, but COVID-19 does not explain why the life expectancy in the United States has fallen behind that of other countries.

The National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report assesses the performance of our healthcare system and identifies areas of strengths and weaknesses, as well as disparities, for access to healthcare and quality of healthcare. Quality is described in terms of six priorities: patient safety, person-centered care, care coordination, effective treatment, healthy living, and care affordability. The report is based on more than 250 measures of quality and disparities covering a broad array of healthcare services and settings.

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