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Patient Safety and Health Information Technology E-Newsletter

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June 14, 2005, Issue No. 10

Quote of the Month

"Research shows that medical errors can be reduced through improved teamwork and adoption of information technology. These [new AHRQ] projects build on our commitment to make medications safer and ensure that health care providers have the tools they need to deliver high quality health care."

—HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt.


Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ annual conference draws hundreds of grantees and stakeholders
  2. HHS Secretary Leavitt addresses patient safety and health IT
  3. AHRQ awards more than $8 million for patient safety research
  4. Dr. Carolyn Clancy testifies before Congress on AHRQ's patient safety activities

1.  AHRQ Annual Conference Draws Hundreds of Grantees and Stakeholders

More than 700 AHRQ patient safety and health IT grantees, policymakers, and other stakeholders attended the Agency's annual conference in Washington, DC, last week and heard from a wide range of distinguished experts. During plenary sessions on June 8, attendees heard from HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt; AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D.; House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT); UnitedHealth Group Senior Vice President Reed Tuckson, M.D.; National Coordinator for Health Information Technology David Brailer, M.D.; and a panel of top congressional staff members who discussed efforts to make health care safer by boosting the use of health IT—along with some of the barriers that are preventing wider adoption of the technology. Secretary Leavitt noted that he has announced a new entity called the American Health Information Community and will be issuing four requests for proposals that will advance efforts to reach President Bush's goal for most Americans to have electronic health records within 10 years. A panel of reporters from national media outlets, including the Associated Press, National Public Radio, the Washington Post, and iHealthBeat, discussed coverage of patient safety and health IT and how researchers and others can best get their messages across to busy journalists. Select to see a video of the day's presentations and the full text of Dr. Clancy's speech, "Quality Is the Goal." In addition, Robert M. Wachter, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of California at San Francisco, gave opening remarks to patient safety grantees on June 6, the first day of the conference. Dr. Wachter is a leading patient safety researcher and AHRQ grantee who led the team that developed AHRQ WebM&M—the agency's first online patient safety journal, and the new AHRQ Patient Safety Network, or AHRQ PSNet—a one-stop portal of resources for improving patient safety and preventing medical errors. Health IT grantees heard from Janet Marchibroda, CEO of the eHealth Initiative, on June 9.

2.  HHS Secretary Leavitt Addresses Patient Safety and Health IT

In a keynote address delivered at the conference, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt spoke about his vision for health information technology and the role of the Federal government. He also announced a new collaboration called the American Health Information Community, a private-public partnership designed to help speed nationwide transition to electronic health records and common standards and interoperability for health IT systems. AHIC, which will be composed of up to 17 commissioners who will be selected through a nomination process, will provide input and recommendations to HHS on how to make health records digital and to interoperable and ensure that the privacy and security of those records are protected. For more information on AHIC, go to the HHS Web site.

3.  AHRQ Awards More Than $8 Million for Patient Safety Research

At the conference, Dr. Clancy announced that AHRQ will award over $8 million in funding for 15 projects over 2 years that are designed to help clinicians, facilities, and patients implement evidence-based patient safety practices. These Partnerships in Implementing Patient Safety grants will use interventions that are ready to be implemented now and will have both an immediate and a long-term impact. Over half the projects focus on reducing medication errors, and many will apply interventions to improve health care team communications. The projects span a wide spectrum of settings and populations, including small rural facilities and large urban hospitals, clinics, and emergency departments, as well as pediatric and geriatric patients. Because some of the projects involve health systems that have locations in multiple states, the research projects will span nearly half of the states in the United States. Select to read AHRQ's recent press release and a complete listing of the PIPS projects.

4.  Dr. Carolyn Clancy Testifies Before Congress on AHRQ's Patient Safety Activities

AHRQ's patient safety research projects "have emphasized the development of skills to undertake patient safety improvement, development of practical tools to facilitate the use of what is now known, and working in voluntary partnership with public- and private-sector groups to actually implement that knowledge," AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., told the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee on June 9. Dr. Clancy discussed the significant progress AHRQ has made to improve patient safety and decrease medical errors through the more than 225 patient safety and related health IT projects it has supported since 2001. She described numerous examples, including the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's "100,000 Lives Campaign," which is cosponsored by AHRQ, CMS, and CDC and enlists more than 2,200 hospitals to commit to implement changes in care that have been proven to prevent avoidable deaths; the Patient Safety Improvement Corps—an AHRQ/VA partnership training program that brings together teams of state officials and private-sector providers to learn about patient safety tools and techniques and undertake joint patient safety initiatives; and the Surgical Care Improvement Project, which was launched in collaboration with CMS and CDC and many private-sector partners to help eliminate surgical complications, such as post-operative pneumonia and surgical site infections. Select to view Dr. Clancy's complete testimony.

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Current as of June 2005

 

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