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Electronic Newsletter

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March 12, 2004, Issue No. 127


AHRQ News and Numbers

People under 65 years of age in the Houston, Miami, and Los Angeles metropolitan areas were more likely to be uninsured throughout the year in 2000, and their average expenses for health care were lower compared with the national average. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, MEPS Statistical Brief #38: Health Care Expenditures and Percentage Uninsured in 10 Large Metropolitan Areas, 2000 (PDF File, 152 KB; PDF Help).]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ director outlines budget priorities for patient safety, health information technology
  2. New study suggests that clinical guidelines used to treat infants with fevers may not improve outcomes
  3. New initiative on Closing the Quality Gap: A Critical Analysis of Quality Improvement Strategies
  4. New AHRQ issue briefs on bioterrorism and health system preparedness
  5. Do you know how AHRQ's research is being used?
  6. New tools added to AHRQ's QualityTools Web site
  7. Highlights from AHRQ's most recent monthly newsletter
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Director Outlines Budget Priorities for Patient Safety, Health Information Technology

AHRQ's FY 2005 budget request of $304 million "reflects our continued focus on improving patient safety and reducing medical errors through the implementation and evaluation of health information technologies by hospitals, health systems, and communities," AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., told members of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies on March 10. "Of the $84 million in the FY 2005 request to reduce medical errors, $50 million will continue to be made available to help hospitals and other health care providers invest in information technology designed to improve patient safety, with an emphasis on small communities and rural hospitals and systems, which often don't have the resources or information needed to implement cutting-edge technology," Dr. Clancy explained. Select to access Dr. Clancy's testimony.

2.  New Study Suggests that Clinical Guidelines Used to Treat Infants with Fevers May Not Improve Outcomes

A new AHRQ study shows that experienced pediatricians who relied on their clinical judgment more than existing clinical guidelines were able to minimize hospitalizations and avoid unnecessary lab testing for infants with fevers without a negative impact on the outcomes of care. The study, led by University of California, San Francisco's Robert H. Pantell, M.D., "Management and Outcomes of Care of Fever in Early Infancy," was published in the March 10 issue of JAMA. Select to access the AHRQ press release.

3.  New Initiative on Closing the Quality Gap: A Critical Analysis of Quality Improvement Strategies

AHRQ has announced a new initiative, Closing the Quality Gap: A Critical Analysis of Quality Improvement Strategies. This new initiative will result in a series of technical reviews on quality improvement strategies, tools, and processes aimed at reducing gaps in quality. The reviews will be produced by the AHRQ Evidence-based Practice Center at the University of California, San Francisco/Stanford and will explore the human and organizational factors influencing quality improvement in a number of areas, including hypertension, diabetes, coordination of care, medication management, and other topics. The first report in the series will outline the challenges to translating research into clinical practice and the methodologies used by the EPC for the reviews. Volume 2 will focus on improving the treatment of patients with diabetes, and Volume 3 will cover hypertension. The reports will be available in the near future. Select to access the fact sheet about this new initiative.

4.  New AHRQ Issue Briefs on Bioterrorism and Health System Preparedness

Issue Brief No. 1: Addressing the Smallpox Threat: Issues, Strategies, and Tools.
Issue Brief No. 2: Disaster Planning Drills and Readiness Assessment.
Issue Brief No. 3: Optimizing Surge Capacity: Hospital Assessment and Planning.
Issue Brief No. 4: Optimizing Surge Capacity: Regional Efforts in Bioterrorism Readiness.

5.  Do You Know How AHRQ's Research Is Being Used?

We are always looking for ways in which AHRQ-funded research, products, and tools have changed people's lives, influenced clinical practice, improved policies, and affected patient outcomes. Impact case studies describe AHRQ research findings in action. These case studies are used in testimony, budget documents, and speeches. We would like to know if you are aware of any impact your AHRQ-funded research has had on health care policy, clinical practice, or patient outcomes. Contact AHRQ's Impact Case Studies Program at (301) 427-1243 with your impact stories.

6.  New tools added to AHRQ's QualityTools Web site

Select to see What's New at the QualityTools Web site—a Web-based clearinghouse that will give health care providers, health plans, policymakers, purchasers, patients, and consumers an accessible mechanism to implement quality improvement recommendations, initiatives, or principles. These tools can be used to improve the delivery and receipt of care, inform health care decisions, and educate individuals regarding their own health care needs. The QualityTools Web site also features the National Healthcare Quality Report and the National Healthcare Disparities Report. To subscribe to QualityTools Weekly Update Service, which notifies you via E-mail when new tools become available at the QualityTools Web site, select to access Subscription Information.

7.  Highlights From AHRQ's Most Recent Monthly Newsletter

Among the key articles in the online issue of Research Activities are:

  • Asthma symptom days determine annual costs of care for children with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma.

The 1998 economic burden of asthma in the United States reached nearly $13 billion. For the large number of children with mild-to-moderate persistent asthma and normal or near-normal lung function, symptom days are predictive of health care costs. Symptom days include days when a child suffers from wheezing, coughing, nighttime awakening, or shortness of breath.

Other articles include:

  • Better communication of disease-specific and general health information can improve diabetes self-care.
  • Study documents racial variations in the prescribing of opioids by ER doctors.
  • Some managed care strategies to improve drug use appear to be effective, but little is known about long term clinical outcomes.
  • Researchers examine ways to improve translation of scientific evidence into improved clinical practice.

Select to read these articles and others.

8.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

We are providing the following hyperlinks to journal abstracts through PubMed® for your convenience. Unfortunately, some of you may not be able to access the abstracts because of firewalls or specific settings on your individual computer systems. If you are having problems, you should ask your technical support staff for possible remedies.

Weinick RM. Researching disparities: strategies for primary data collection. Acad Emerg Med 2003 Nov;10(11):1161-8. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Singh-Manoux A, Richards M, Marmot M. Leisure activities and cognitive function in middle age: evidence from the Whitehall II study. J Epidemiol Community Health 2003 Nov;57(1):907-13. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Brown MD, Lau J, Nelson RD, et al. Turbidimetric D-dimer test in the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism: a metaanalysis. Clin Chem 2003 Nov;49(11):1846-53. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Kuo YF, Raji MA, Markides KS, et al. Inconsistent use of diabetes medications, diabetes complications, and mortality in older Mexican Americans over a 7-year period. Diabetes Care 2003 Nov;26(11):3054-60. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Bhattacharya J, Goldman D, Sood N. The link between public and private insurance and HIV-related morality. J Health Econ 2003 Nov;22(6):1105-22. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Stewart AL, Napoles-Springer AM. Advancing health disparities research: can we afford to ignore measurement issues? Med Care 2003 Nov;41(11):1207-20. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Haggerty CL, Schulz R, Ness RB. Lower quality of life among women with chronic pelvic pain after pelvic inflammatory disease. Obstet Gynecol 2003 Nov; 102(5 Pt1):934-939. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions regarding the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Nancy Comfort at Nancy.Comfort@ahrq.hhs.gov or (301) 427-1866.

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Current as of March 2004

 

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