AHRQ’s Road Ahead: Seizing Opportunities in Three Essential Areas to Improve Patient Care

By Gopal Khanna, M.B.A., Director of AHRQ
Twitter: @AHRQNews

In previous blog posts, I’ve reflected on the significant challenges that health system leaders and decision makers face on a day-to-day basis. The continuing trend in mergers and acquisitions, new technologies, and shifting demographics, along with an unprecedented explosion in the availability of data, have combined to create a healthcare ecosystem in constant change.

At the same time, the need to improve patient care is enormous. My colleagues at AHRQ and I recognize that while we’re confronted with the need to act, these same challenges offer a rare chance for AHRQ to lead efforts that will result in higher quality, safer, and higher value healthcare services, as well as more person-centered care.

This period of opportunity occurs as AHRQ approaches an important milestone later this year: the 20th anniversary of AHRQ as the Agency we know today. We see this as a time not only to reflect on our past success but also to rededicate ourselves to our mission to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable in the future.

As we pursue these goals in coming months, we will continue to rely on our core competencies: funding investigators on the cutting edge of health systems research; developing initiatives to help health systems implement the most effective strategies for practice improvement; and supporting greater use of data and analytics to improve healthcare decision making.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has established a long-term vision for the Department to enhance and protect the well-being of all Americans. As AHRQ continues its efforts to make healthcare safer and higher quality, we will map our efforts to support Secretary Azar’s vision for improving patients’ lives. In addition, we will continue to support the Secretary’s priorities to lower drug prices, end the opioid crisis, improve health insurance options, and transform our healthcare system into one that pays for value-based care.

After spending the past year listening to health system leaders, clinical experts, researchers, patient advocates and others, we are developing long-term strategies to address, amongst others, three critical challenges that are front and center in today’s ever-changing digital healthcare ecosystem.

Today’s Urgent Challenges:

  • Improve care for the 25 percent of Americans living with multiple chronic conditions. AHRQ aims to catalyze the development of a sustainable healthcare system that delivers high-value, coordinated patient-centered care. We envision a primary care-based system that optimizes individual and population health by preventing and effectively managing multiple chronic conditions.
  • Establish an integrated data, analytics, and information platform, along with the necessary technical expertise, to capture a 360° view of the healthcare system. Our goal is to ensure Federal, State, and local policymakers have timely and accurate data and useful analytic resources to make informed policy decisions about the healthcare system.
  • Reduce by 10 percent the more than 12 million diagnostic errors that take place each year by applying evidence-based patient safety strategies, predictive analytics, personalized and precision medicine, and new technologies at the point of care.

We will continue to listen to our stakeholders to identify critical problems facing healthcare providers and develop innovative initiatives to deliver solutions with real and lasting impact. The importance of working together feels particularly relevant today, as we acknowledge the vital role of collaboration during this year’s Public Service Recognition Week.

In upcoming weeks, my colleagues and I will return to this space with additional AHRQ Views blog posts that dig deeper into these vital topics. I hope you’ll continue to follow these and other exciting ways in which we can work together to transform health care delivery and have a lasting impact on the lives of patients.

This article was originally published on AHRQ Views Blog and is republished here with permission.