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October 28, 2005, Issue #182

AHRQ News and Numbers

In 2003, the top five procedures performed on hospital patients were cesarean section, (1.2 million procedures and $14.6 billion in total charges); upper GI endoscopy for diagnosing ulcers, stomach cancer, and other problems (712,000 procedures and $14.5 billion in total charges); catheterization to diagnose heart problems, (707,000 procedures and $17.3 billion in total charges); respiratory intubation and mechanical ventilation (617,000 procedures and $35.4 billion in total charges); and angioplasty to widen plaque-narrowed arteries in the heart (676,000 procedures and $26.5 billion in total charges). These total charges reflect what hospitals charged for patient stays but do not include physician fees. [Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, HCUPnet.]

Today's Headlines:

  1. AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy's speaks to AMIA
  2. National Advisory Council meeting scheduled for November 4
  3. ABC World News Tonight—programming on smoking cessation and lung cancer treatment and prevention
  4. AHRQ to transition to electronic grant applications
  5. Study on premium subsidy program enrollment
  6. AHRQ WebM&M is available online
  7. Most recent highlights from our monthly newsletter
  8. Calling all AHRQ researchers! "Help us to help you."
  9. AHRQ in the professional literature

1.  AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy Speaks to AMIA

Health information technology, combined with quality of care initiatives and evidence-based medicine, form an interlinked triad that can transform health care delivery in America, AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., told the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) in remarks on October 25. She discussed important steps to take now in order to harness the power of health IT. Select to read Dr. Clancy's remarks.

2.  National Advisory Council Meeting Scheduled for November 4

The AHRQ National Advisory Council is scheduled to meet on Friday, November 4, at the John M. Eisenberg Conference Center in Rockville, MD. The Council will address the health care disparities gap, goals for AHRQ, and mechanisms to pay for quality care. Select for an overview of the Council.

3.  ABC World News Tonight—Programming on Smoking Cessation and Lung Cancer Treatment and Prevention

During the month of November, ABC World News Tonight is planning month-long programming on smoking cessation and lung cancer treatment & prevention. This effort is in conjunction with the annual Great American Smokeout. As part of its efforts, the nightly newscast will promote the HHS' National Quitline number, 1-800 QUIT NOW, and tobacco cessation Web site for a number of consumer and clinician products developed by AHRQ taken from the evidence-based Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guideline: Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.

4.  AHRQ to Transition to Electronic Grant Applications

AHRQ will replace the PHS 398 grant application form with the Standard Form (SF) 424 Research and Related grant application form over the next 2 years. At the same time, AHRQ will require full use of electronic submission through Web site. Transition to the new form and electronic submission will be phased in by funding mechanism as per the October 7 NIH Guide. Applicants for the AHRQ Conference grants (R13) will be the first required to use the SF 424, starting with the December 20 submission date. Select to read a detailed description of the electronic submission and receipt processes.

5.  Study on Premium Subsidy Program Enrollment

Parents of children enrolled in the Oregon premium subsidy program were more likely to be employed, speak English, have prior experience with premiums and private health insurance, and perceive insurance as protection against future health care needs, compared with parents of Oregon SCHIP enrollees, according to a new AHRQ-funded study. The researchers conclude that several factors are likely to have an impact on the success of premium subsidy programs in serving low-income families, including families' knowledge of and experience with using the private health care system and access to employer-sponsored health insurance. The study did not find that cost-sharing posed a barrier to accessing services in the Oregon program. The authors caution that this could change as private insurance plans increasingly shift costs to employees through higher copayments and deductibles. Select to read more about the study, "Premium Subsidy Programs: Who Enrolls and How do They Fare?" published in the September/October issue of Health Affairs.

6.  AHRQ WebM&M Is Available Online

The Perspectives on Safety section of the AHRQ WebM&M, the online patient safety journal, highlights patient safety initiatives, with particular focus on translating safety research into practice. The first perspective features an interview with AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., about how patient safety research and health IT can drive improvement in quality and safety. Select to read Dr. Clancy's interview.

7.  Most Recent Highlights from Our Monthly Newsletter

Among the key articles in the online issue of Research Activities:

  • Ethnically diverse patients define what cultural competence means to them.

To better meet the needs of ethnically diverse patients and reduce disparities in health and health care, efforts are underway in the United States to help doctors become more culturally competent. Identifying what culturally competent health care means from the standpoint of these patients will help in the design of training programs to address the cultural factors that impact the quality of care.

Other articles are:

  • Delayed sternal closure increases the risk of mid-sternum infections in children following cardiac surgery.
  • Survey reveals shortage of radiologists and certified mammography technologists at U.S. community mammography facilities.
  • Increased use of ACE inhibitors for elderly people with diabetes could improve outcomes and save money.
  • Many rural primary care providers seek information to support patient care, but most still prefer print over online sources.

Select to read these articles and others.

8.  Calling All AHRQ Researchers! "Help Us to Help You."

As you may know, AHRQ can help you promote the findings of your research, but we can't do it without you. AHRQ has been successful in working with our grantees and contractors to promote findings to the media and to transfer knowledge based on the research to appropriate audiences in the health care community. However, we know that we can do better. We need you to notify us when you have an article accepted for publication. Please send a copy of the manuscript, anticipated publication date, and contact information for the journal and your institution's PR office to your AHRQ project officer and to AHRQ Public Affairs at Your manuscript will be reviewed to determine what level of marketing we will pursue. Please be assured that AHRQ always honors the journal embargo. Thank you for your cooperation.

9.  AHRQ in the Professional Literature

We are providing the following hyperlinks to journal abstracts through PubMed® for your convenience. Unfortunately, some of you may not be able to access the abstracts because of firewalls or specific settings on your individual computer systems. If you are having problems, you should ask your technical support staff for possible remedies.

Waitzkin H, Jass-Aguilar R, Landwehr A, et al. Gobal trade, public health, and health services: stakeholders' constructions of the key issues. Soc Sci Med 2005 Sep; 61():893-906. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Newgard CD, Hui SH, Stamps-White P, et al. Institutional variability in a minimal risk, population-based study: recognizing policy barriers to health services research. Health Serv Res 2005 Aug; 40(4):1247-58. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Wilson IB, Rogers WH, Chang H, et al. Cost-related skipping of medications and other treatments among Medicare beneficiaries between 1998 and 2000: results of a national study. J Gen Intern Med 2005 Aug; 20(8):715-20. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Domino ME, Huskamp H. Does provider variation matter to health plans? J Health Econ 2005 Jul; 24(4):795-815. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Tchernis R, Horvitz-Lennon M, Normand SL. On the use of discrete choice models for causal inference. Stat Med 2005 Jul 30: 24(14):2197-212. Select to read the abstract in PubMed®.

Contact Information

Please address comments and questions regarding the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Nancy Comfort at or (301) 427-1866.

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Current as of October 2005


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