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'Scorecard' Finds U.S. Health System to Be Low Achiever

Results from the first-ever comprehensive scorecard for the U.S. health care system indicate the nation falls far short of what it could achieve.

Developed by the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance assesses the nation's health care in terms of health outcomes, quality, access, equity, and efficiency, comparing national averages to benchmarks of achieved performance. Out of a possible score of 100, the U.S. averages just 66 across more than three dozen health system indicators.

The new findings are discussed in a Health Affairs Web Exclusive written by Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen and colleagues, and in a report and accompanying materials available on the Fund's Web site.

Not only does the U.S. often fare poorly when compared with other nations, but performance varies greatly across states and across hospitals and health plans. "What the Scorecard tells us is that there are many pockets of excellence in health care in this country, but overall we are performing far below our national potential," said James J. Mongan, M.D., the CEO of Partners HealthCare System in Boston and chairman of the 18-member Commission.

Based on the Commission's findings, if the U.S. improved performance in key areas, it could save an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 lives and $50 billion to $100 billion annually.

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