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AHRQ Annual Report on Research and Management, FY 2003

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Message from the Director

Welcome to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's FY 2003 Annual Report on Research and Financial Management, which summarizes AHRQ's programmatic and financial achievements. We all benefit from safe, effective, and efficient health care, and this report demonstrates our resolve to improve the quality of health care services provided in this Nation, as well as our continued commitment to assure sound investments in programs that will make a difference.

AHRQ's research is driven by the needs of our users—patients, clinicians, health system leaders, and policymakers. The Agency's research provides the scientific foundation for the Nation's efforts to improve the quality, safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of health care. AHRQ supports the work of health services researchers at America's leading academic centers and maintains a rigorous intramural research program that collects and analyzes data to understand changes in health care quality, cost, use, and access. AHRQ also supports efforts to develop the tools and information used by the public and private sectors to measure and improve health care quality.

An important part of our mission is to translate the findings of our research into practice. AHRQ develops evidence reports on best practices for improving care for the most urgent priorities confronting U.S. health care. These reports provide a roadmap for our partners by clarifying which strategies are most effective and by identifying where additional research is required. Our ultimate goal is to make measurable improvements in the quality of health care and help ensure that the American people get the highest quality and safest health care possible.

Every day it becomes more apparent that AHRQ's research is making a difference, as more patients, clinicians, health system leaders, and policymakers seek evidence to inform their health care decisions. Our long-standing programs continue to inform health care decisions made at all levels of the health care system, while our newer programs are releasing findings that promise to have a significant impact on the health care system.

I am also excited about our future direction, as we move to make AHRQ a "problem solving" agency. This will entail a greater focus on implementation research that is designed to develop strategies for overcoming barriers to the adoption of clinical interventions that are both effective and cost effective. We need to be more proactive in closing the gap between what we know is effective and cost effective in health care and what is done in daily practice.

I take pride in our accomplishments to date, and I look forward to building on our past successes to achieve new gains for the American people. The end result of our research will be measurable improvements in health care in America, 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.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

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