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Is Massachusetts a Health Care Quality Innovator?

Posted by John McDonough  December 17, 2011 06:20 PM

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For a long time, I have felt that Massachusetts has a striking culture of innovation and experimentation in improving the quality of health care. We are, after all, the home of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and the largest recipients of grants from the National Institutes of Health. I recently discovered one more piece of evidence to support that belief.

One of my favorite federal agencies, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), runs a Healthcare Innovations Exchange to speed the implementation of new and better ways of delivering health care. It has an easily searchable database and inventory of creative ways to improve health care quality, reduce racial and ethic health disparities, and prevent harm to patients -- 2287 innovations in all at last count. It also categorizes the innovations by state.

I wondered how many were from Massachusetts.

The number was easy to find, 62, the second highest number of innovations from any of the 50 states, after California’s 75, and by far the highest on a population basis.  Here is a list of the top ten:


1.     California, 75

2.     Massachusetts, 62

3.     Pennsylvania, 48

4.     New York, 46

5.     Texas, 31

6.     Maryland, 27

7.     Michigan, 26

8.     Minnesota, 24

North Carolina, 24

10. Washington, 22


The whole site is fascinating and the list of innovations from Massachusetts is impressive, spanning the state, and reaching into every part of the health care system.  Susan Edgman-Levitan from Mass. General Hospital is one of the expert advisers to the project.


Now, for sure, AHRQ’s site is not a comprehensive catalog of all innovations across the nation, and one can’t take this observation too far.  Still, to me, it’s a positive sign about which our health care community should feel good.  We have a high commitment in this state to making health care better and we’re a cutting edge state not just in clinical research, but also in improving quality.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

John E. McDonough is a professor of practice at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the author of the book “Inside National Health Reform”, published in 2011 by More »


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