From the Director
Research Activities, November 2011
AHRQ's fifth annual conference reminded me again how exciting it is to be surrounded by passionate and visionary professionals who are breaking new ground and advancing the field of health care. In the months since the fourth annual conference, great progress has been made in our efforts to transform the U.S. health care system into an information-rich, patient-centered enterprise that provides care for people when and where they need it. This year's theme, "AHRQ: Leading Through Innovation & Collaboration," focused on the urgency required to address today's challenges in improving quality and access to care, and finding value for what we spend. It called for collaboration with clinicians, patients, health care leaders and employers, as well as community partners, who are working to make a difference, and the development and sharing of new ideas. It was exciting to unveil an original series of new "Questions Are the Answer" videos at the first plenary session. The videos, which feature real patients and clinicians discussing the importance of asking questions and sharing information, underscore the importance of patient-centered care and good communication to quality care in the 21st century. The videos are available on the AHRQ Web site at . This year's conference agenda was aligned with the major aims outlined in the National Quality Strategy:
- Better Care: Promote person-centered care that works for patients, their families, and other caregivers and providers.
- Healthy People/Healthy Communities: Promote health and wellness at all levels for all populations.
- Affordable Care: Promote strategies that reduce costs for individual families, employers, and government, while improving access and the quality of care delivered to patients.
The plenary and other conference sessions featured pioneers of health care describing their work, much of which has the potential to affect cultural and system change on a national scale. We heard from four leaders from Detroit, Memphis, Chicago, and western Pennsylvania, whose efforts are making a difference now in reducing disparities in care in their communities. We also heard from leaders from Los Angeles to Baltimore on innovations to improve care, who noted that system change and market forces were critical to implementing innovations. In addition, we were challenged by one speaker to envision and achieve exceptional outcomes across the health care system. Multiple sessions showcased current AHRQ-funded work in health information technology, primary care, preventing healthcare-associated infections and other safety problems, reducing disparities, as well as current collaborations with partners who apply the results of our research to improve health care. AHRQ's collaboration and partnership with these visionary individuals and organizations, and their collaboration with each other, have great potential to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.
Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.