The Institute of Medicine's recent report, Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality, cites the change in the nation's health care needs over the last few decades and the system's general inability to respond.
"The health care needs of the American people have been shifting from predominately acute care to chronic care," the report states. "Today, chronic conditions are the leading cause of illness, disability, and death in the United States....The nation's health care delivery system had not significantly evolved to meet these changing needs." This problem is underscored in a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report, Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care, which draws on data collected by the Rand Corp. and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
SOURCE: AGENCY FOR HEALTHCARE RESEARCH AND QUALITY, MEDICAL EXPENDITURE PANEL SURVEY, 1998