Maine Earns Top Ranking Nationally for Health Care Performance

September 1, 2016

ahrq1TOPSHAM, ME – A national survey of state-by-state health care quality data shows Maine as the top performer in the country according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  AHRQ, which is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has been releasing its annual State Snapshots report since 2005, and this is the first time that Maine has topped the list for average performance of all states across all measures. Maine has moved up in the rankings consistently since 2009 when it ranked 12th in the U.S., and made the jump from 3rd to 1st in the past year.

The State Snapshots provide state-specific health care quality information on over 250 health care quality measures, and it serves to identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement in three areas: settings of care, types of care, and clinical conditions. The goal of the report is to help state officials and their public- and private-sector partners better understand health care quality and disparities in their state so they can take targeted approaches to improving health and health care.

While myriad reasons exist for Maine’s consistently high scores in the survey, our state’s providers deserve the lion’s share of the credit. Gordon Smith, Executive Vice President of Maine Medical Association, remarked that, “Health professionals in Maine are extremely dedicated and are working hard under frequently difficult circumstances – particularly in this time of rapid transformation and transition in how they deliver care. It’s really nice to see them recognized for their hard work and the quality of care they provide.”

Jim Kane, the Executive Director at Central Maine Healthcare Corporation (CMHC), noted that another significant contributor to Maine’s ranking is the strong spirit of collaboration here in our state. Mr. Kane, who also serves on the Board of the multi-stakeholder health improvement collaborative, the Maine Health Management Coalition (MHMC), remarked that “few states in the U.S. have the level of cooperation that we have here in Maine.  Thanks to the MHMC we are able to get those who deliver care, those who pay for care, and those that receive care all in the same room to talk about how we can work together to drive improvement. We address health care quality head-on as a community instead of in our individual silos, and that kind of teamwork has a big impact.”

ahrq2When reached for comment, Lorrie Marquis, the MHMC’s Director of Performance Measurement and Transparency, echoed Mr. Kane’s sentiments.

“Maine’s health care community is really special. Sometimes the collaborative nature of our providers gets taken for granted, but we get to see it every day at the MHMC. One great example has been our Pathways to Excellence program, which brings providers, insurers, consumers and employers together to hash out equitable ways of making health care quality transparent.”

While Maine’s performance is certainly laudable, though, it is important to note that no state, including Maine, scored well in every area measured by AHRQ. There is still room for improvement, and we will need to continue working together to make Maine the healthiest state in the country.

“Providers in our state are fiercely dedicated to improving the health of their patients,” said Dr. Barbara Crowley, Executive Vice President at MaineGeneral Health in Augusta. “They work very hard to be sure they are delivering the highest quality care possible, and that hard work is born out in the stats we see in the AHRQ report. I’m sure that we’ll continue to see our scores improve in the years to come.”

For more information about the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s State Snapshots, visit www.ahrq.gov.