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August 9, 2002, Issue No. 67


AHRQ News and Numbers

The average total charge for treating patients hospitalized for diagnostic cardiac catheterization (coronary arteriography) increased from $11,232 in 1993 to $16,838 in 2000. The total number of patients increased from 626,690 to 693,472, while the average length of stay decreased from 4.7 days to 3.6 days during that time period. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, HCUPnet, 2000.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ partners with ePocrates to disseminate USPSTF recommendations
  2. Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day is September 24
  3. Updated AHRQ Child Health Toolbox available on the Web
  4. New fact sheet on AHRQ's CERTs program
  5. AHRQ patient safety article in Family Practice Management
  6. USPSTF issues recommendation on physical activity
  7. Evidence report summary on the management of stroke available
  8. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Partners with ePocrates to Disseminate U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations

AHRQ has partnered with ePocrates to distribute recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to a handheld network of over 600,000 health care professionals through the ePocrates DocAlert® messaging system. This is the first time that USPSTF, an independent panel of primary care and prevention experts that develops evidence-based recommendations for clinical preventive services, has used a handheld network to deliver outcomes to the medical community. "The USPSTF evidence-based recommendations cover a broad range of topics affecting the health care of Americans: from screening tests for cancer to medical interventions for disease management and immunization schedules for children," says Dr. Carolyn Clancy, acting director of AHRQ. "This is an important step to bring evidence-based information to the point of care by getting these state-of-the art scientific findings into the hands of health care professionals who are on the front line of improving the delivery of health care in this country."

2.  Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day Is September 24

HHS and ABC Radio Networks are working together to get the word out about Take a Loved One to The Doctor Day, scheduled for Tuesday, September 24. Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day is part of a national campaign that aims to close the health gap between the health of communities of color and the general population. The campaign, "Closing the Health Gap," was launched in November 2001. By encouraging individuals to visit a health care professional or make an appointment to do so on or near September 24, HHS hopes to help generate a greater understanding of the importance of regular health screenings. HHS is asking local organizations, local health centers, local and State health departments, national organizations and their affiliates, local ABC Radio affiliates, and other interested folks to sign on as partners, and then partner with each other in developing activities at the local level.

The Community Action Tool Kit contains fact sheets, sample press releases, media pitches, talking points, letters to the editor, op-ed articles, and newsletter articles. It also offers tips for creating a proclamation (along with a sample), a pledge form, and lists of national, State and local partners. You may also call 1-800-444-6472 to find out more, and to obtain free Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day posters. Thanks for helping to make Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day a huge success!

3.  Updated AHRQ Child Health Toolbox Available on the Web

AHRQ has recently revised the Child Health Toolbox, a Web-based resource on children's quality and other performance measures. It is designed to be useful to State and local policymakers, child advocates and others concerned about the quality of children's health care. The Toolbox provides concepts, tips, and tools for evaluating quality of health care in Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Title V, and other health care service programs for children. It now has been expanded to include the CAHPS® 2.0 Child Survey with supplemental questions for children with chronic conditions, new child measures included in the 2002 HEDIS®, and a new generation of quality indicators called AHRQ QIs. The updates mean that users will have the most recent evidence-based information to help improve the quality of health care for children. Select to access the Toolbox.

4.  New Fact Sheet on AHRQ's CERTs Program

A new CERTs fact sheet updates AHRQ's national initiative to conduct research and provide education that advances the optimal use of therapeutics (i.e., drugs, medical devices, and biological products). Select to access the updated fact sheet.

5.  AHRQ Patient Safety Article in Family Practice Management

An article by Dr. Gregg Meyer, director of AHRQ's Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, was published in a special patient safety issue of Family Practice Management magazine. The article, "The Power of Two: Improving Patient Safety Through Better Physician-Patient Communication," was requested by the magazine's editor, who wanted a feature article to use along with our fact sheet titled "20 Tips to Prevent Medical Errors." Select to access the article.

6.  USPSTF Issues Recommendation on Physical Activity

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has issued a recommendation titled "Behavioral Counseling for Physical Activity," published in the August 6 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. While the AHRQ-sponsored Task Force affirms the well-established benefits and importance of physical activity to improve health and prevent disease, it found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against behavioral counseling by primary care physicians to promote physical activity among adults. The Task Force calls for more research on the role of clinician counseling on levels of physical activity for adults, children, and adolescents. The Task Force notes the abundant evidence regarding the importance of physical activity as a means to staying healthy. However, there is mixed or inconclusive evidence regarding the role of primary care providers in motivating adult patients and the need for more research. There are a few multi-component interventions that the Task Force feels are promising approaches to encouraging adults to exercise, including patient goal setting, written exercise prescriptions, individually tailored physical activity regimens, and telephone follow-up. In addition, the Task Force notes that linking primary care patients to community programs, targeting groups rather than individuals, may be a helpful approach. The CDC Task Force on Community Preventive Services has identified specific approaches that may be a useful complement to relying solely on primary care clinicians. Select to access the recommendation.

7.  Evidence Report Summary on the Management of Stroke Available

We issued the summary of a new evidence report on Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Echocardiography and Carotid Imaging in the Management of Stroke. It was written by AHRQ's Evidence-based Practice Center at the Oregon Health & Science University, working with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, OR. The report presents an analysis of the available data on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of imaging strategies in the evaluation and management of new stroke patients. It discusses several gaps in the information related to the effectiveness of echocardiography. The report also indicates that trials assessing the efficacy and safety of early versus late carotid endarterectomy would help in deciding the most appropriate timing of carotid imaging. Select to access the summary. A print copy of the summary is available by sending an E-mail to AHRQPubs@ahrq.hhs.gov.

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.

Lockhart LK, Ditto PH, Danks JH, et al. The stability of older adults' judgments of fates better and worse than death. Death Studies 2001 Jun; 25(4):299-317. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Jaber BL, Lau J, Schmid CH, et al. Effect of biocompatibility of hemodialysis membranes on mortality in acute renal failure: a meta-analysis. Clin Nephrol 2002 Apr; 57(4):274-82. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Kurata JH, Nogawa AN, Everhart JE. A prospective study of dyspepsia in primary care. Dig Dis Sci 2002 Apr; 47(4):797-803. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Farquhar CM, Stryer D, Slutsky J. Translating research into practice: the future ahead. Int J Qual Health Care 2002 Jun; 14(3):233-49. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Casebeer L, Bennett N, Kristofco R, et al. Physician Internet medical information seeking and online continuing education use patterns. J Contin Educ Health Prof 2002 Winter; 22(1):33-42. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Davies HTO, Washington AE, Bindman AB. Health care report cards: implications for vulnerable patient groups and the organizations providing them care. J Health Politics Policy Law 2002 Jun; 27(3):379-99. Select to access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

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Current as of August 2002

 

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