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July 30, 2013

By Gary A. Puckrein, PhD

Chid selecting a stick of sidewalk chalk

Posted May 29, 2013 | Updated July 29, 2013

By Gary A. Puckrein

Published on the Huffington Post

This month the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through its Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released the 2012 National Healthcare Quality Report, along with the companion 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report. The opening paragraph of the report describes the purpose of our health care system. It is “…designed to improve the physical and mental well-being of all Americans by preventing, diagnosing, and treating illness and by supporting optimal function. Across the lifespan, health care helps people stay healthy, recover from illness, live with chronic disease or disability, and cope with death and dying. Quality health care delivers these services in ways that are safe, timely, patient centered, efficient, and equitable”.

“Unfortunately”, the report goes on to say, “Americans too often do not receive care they need, or they receive care that causes harm. Care can be delivered too late or without full consideration of a patient’s preferences and values. Many times, our system of health care distributes services inefficiently and unevenly across populations. Some Americans receive worse care than others. These disparities may occur for a variety of reasons, including differences in access to care, social determinants, provider biases, poor provider-patient communication, and poor health literacy.

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