Every day Americans receive high-quality health care that helps maintain or restore their health. Unfortunately, this does not happen for everyone who uses the health care system. According to the Institute of Medicine, Americans receive recommended care only 53 percent of the time. Inappropriate care and preventable mistakes happen in thousands of cases every year. Health care quality problems are demonstrated by the variation in health care practice and by the underuse, overuse and misuse of health care services. Disparities in the health care services provided to members of ethnic and racial minority populations is another example of problems in quality.
The delivery of health care services is often fragmented and patient care is uncoordinated. This can lead to preventable harm and higher costs. Measuring performance through the use of quality measures is essential to evaluate how well health care services are being delivered. Standardized health care performance, with publicly reported results, helps ensure that health care is safe, equitable and of the highest value.