Looking Ahead: Continuing To Build AHRQ’s Future
Recently, I marked my one-year anniversary as Director of AHRQ. In reflecting on how we can build on what we’ve achieved so far, I’m impressed with many things, including how quickly the year went by!
In addition to improving the health of all Americans through state-of-the-art health services research and tools to support improvements in patient safety and primary care, I am very encouraged by the steps we’ve taken to rethink how AHRQ might meet the needs of health care policymakers, executives, and researchers—both today and 5 to 10 years from now. In particular, I’m thrilled by our efforts to develop and implement a data-driven enterprise platform.
So many AHRQ staff members have helped me craft a vision that aims to propel AHRQ’s data resources into the 21st Century. We have all strived to move forward on finding ways to meet our customers’ unmet data needs and attempt to mold our data to fill the gaps for the private and public sectors.
While that undertaking may seem daunting, we at AHRQ have also been diligently working to fundamentally change how AHRQ itself operates and modernize our Agency to function as nimbly and efficiently as possible in this ever-changing landscape. You can learn more about my vision for AHRQ in a new video.
As we consider ways to reshape and amplify AHRQ’s work, we’re also eager to continue to advance the priorities identified by HHS Secretary Alex Azar:
- Battling the opioid crisis.
- Reducing prescription drug prices.
- Increasing the affordability and accessibility of health insurance.
- Reshaping Medicare so that our health system pays for value rather than volume.
The team at AHRQ is gratified that our work is already aligned with these vital areas.
The Nation’s opioid crisis is better understood, for example, thanks to AHRQ’s ongoing collection and analysis of data on opioid-related hospital care. AHRQ’s expertise in statistical analyses has also yielded various statistical briefs quantifying the costs of prescription drugs and how much people are paying for public and private insurance.
Meanwhile, AHRQ data that quantifies the decline in hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) strongly suggest that value-based payment initiatives are working. From 2010 to 2014, HAC rates declined 17 percent, and we estimate that nearly 87,000 fewer patients died in the hospital and nearly $20 billion in health care costs have been saved. That means fewer preventable injuries from falls, fewer adverse drug events, and fewer central line-associated blood stream infections. We know these things have been possible because of incentive programs from our sister agency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
As I envision my next year as AHRQ’s Director, as well as the years beyond, I am encouraged by how we are moving toward an era in which the most effective health care strategies are based on data-driven insights. Some of the territory ahead will reveal answers to questions that have yet to even be asked. But I know AHRQ’s most important resource—its people—can push us to navigate the challenges ahead and make the future of health care even brighter than today.
This article was originally published on AHRQ Views Blog and is republished here with permission.