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In a recent commentary, Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, describes the Agency's many initiatives to translate research into practice to improve health care quality, enhance patient outcomes, and foster safe, effective, and cost-effective health care for all Americans. Dr. Clancy focuses on the continued maturation of AHRQ's mission and focus, recent achievements, new external factors that affect AHRQ's work, and emerging health care challenges that AHRQ is in a unique position to address.
AHRQ has made many investments in patient safety, including support for centers of excellence, evaluation of new applications of information technology, new knowledge regarding the organization and work processes that facilitate the best efforts of health care professionals, and assessment of unintended harms attributable to therapeutic and diagnostic interventions. Relevant research on patient safety is tested by involving individual consumers, health plans, hospitals, purchasers, and Federal partners at all stages of the research cycle, says Dr. Clancy. These investments are critical to transforming health care delivery.
AHRQ's research is continuously informed by user input. For example, two research networks are made up of integrated delivery systems and primary care practitioners as a new type of "laboratory" to implement evidence-based improvements. Recent initiatives, such as AHRQ's Partnerships for Quality, build on and amplify the importance of ongoing customer involvement in research to assure rapid and broad uptake of successful efforts.
AHRQ continues to evolve through closer working relationships with other agencies in the Department of Health and Human Services and in other public sector departments, as well as professional associations, foundations, community-based organizations, and other private-sector groups. For example, AHRQ is working closely with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop new modules of the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS®) to assess patients' perspectives of hospital and nursing home care.
For more details, see "Back to the future," by Dr. Clancy online in the June 25, 2003, Web issue of Health Affairs at www.healthaffairs.org.
Reprints (AHRQ Publication No. 03-R045) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.
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