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AHRQ Annual Report on Research and Management, FY 2002

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Message from the Acting Director

I am pleased to share the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's FY 2002 Performance and Accountability Report with you. This annual report conveys the agency's key program and financial management activities and accomplishments, and demonstrates the dedication AHRQ brings to carrying out its mission.

Over the last year, we have upheld the strong tradition of the agency in supporting and conducting innovative and opportune health services research of the highest quality, and our hard work is making a positive difference in the quality of health care services provided in this Nation. Increasingly, health care decisionmakers have come to rely on AHRQ as the lead Federal Agency supporting and conducting research to improve quality, enhance the outcomes and effectiveness of health care services, and identify strategies to improve access, foster appropriate use, and reduce unnecessary expenditures.

AHRQ is the Federal agency leading efforts to help reduce medical errors and promote patient safety. This initiative represents the Federal government's largest single investment to address the estimated 44,000 to 98,000 patient deaths in hospitals related to medical errors each year. Current AHRQ-sponsored research, which is focusing on identifying and implementing practices to reduce errors as well as yielding practical, evidence-based tools and strategies for the health care system, is laying the groundwork to solve this critical health care problem.

Our mission is driven by the needs of users of our research—patients, clinicians, health system leaders, and policymakers. The primary focus of our mission is to ensure that the research we support is translated into practice so it can reduce the gap between what health care services are known to be effective and the everyday health care services people receive. We have many examples of our success in translating research into practice. These examples include many private-sector organizations that are using the findings of AHRQ research to improve the quality of health care in this Nation. Our success is also evident from the 2,500 requests for evidence-based information that we received from Federal, State, and local government officials searching for evidence to inform their decisions.

Simply put, AHRQ's research improves the health care of Americans. As illustrated throughout this report, one of our greatest accomplishments is that the research we support and conduct has had a great impact on public programs, including Medicare and Medicaid. During the past year, we have supported innovative projects from the best and brightest health services researchers, and we have sponsored unique, focused initiatives involving partnership and collaboration with the public- and private-sector organizations that have an impact on how health care is delivered. AHRQ also continues to nurture the field of health services research by supporting the fledgling careers of new investigators and by encouraging the advancement of established researchers.

Looking ahead, I am confident that we will continue our success in translating research into practice, ensuring that our work improves the quality of health care in America. The end result of our research will be the best health care system possible for this Nation, gauged in terms of improved quality of life and patient outcomes, lives saved, and value gained for what we spend.

Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.
Acting Director
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

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