The U.S. healthcare system is bad and only getting worse, according to a new quality report card released by the Commonwealth Fund.
In its National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, researchers gave American healthcare what amounts to barely a passing grade across more than three dozen quality indicators.
Overall, performance did not improve from 2006, when the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System released its first report, to 2008, and gaps in a number of different categories have only grown.
The poor performance is deeply troubling, said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. This latest scorecard demonstrates that we are, in fact, losing ground.
Of primary concern is a large dip in access to healthcare, which dropped to a score of 58 from 67 two years earlier. In 2007, more than 75 million Americans were either uninsured during the year or underinsured, the report states.
But scores did increase for certain clinical measures, many of which have been in the field for years already and form the basis for several quality-reporting initiatives. Common treatments for diabetes and high blood pressure, for instance, also improved.
Jerod Loeb, executive vice president of quality measurement and research at the Joint Commission, called those advances good news, adding that the accreditor has long tracked improvement in many of those same categories from hospitals across the country.
When you focus on specific processes of care that are known to have strong linkages to better outcomes, he said, and then hold health systems accountable, people pay attention. Weve seen that.
Even moderate improvements could lead to 100,000 saved lives each year, according to the report.
The National Scorecard includes 37 indicators in five different categories measuring health system performance, including healthy lives, quality, access, efficiency and equity. The U.S. average is compared with benchmarks from the top 10% of U.S. states, regions, health plans and hospitals. Overall, national scores declined for 41% of indicators, with about one-third, 35%, improved, and the rest did not change, according to the report. -- by Matthew DoBias