Research Conference Spotlights Importance of AHRQ’s Work
AHRQ’s work to ensure safe, high-quality care is essential to the U.S. health system, according to speakers who addressed nearly 1,000 attendees during the October 5 opening plenary session of the 2015 AHRQ Research Conference in Arlington, Virginia. Calling the agency’s contributions “a necessity and not a nicety,” HHS Acting Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., praised AHRQ’s research, tools and work with the Partnership for Patients program, which helped the U.S. health care system prevent 1.3 million medical errors, save 50,000 lives and avoid $12 billion in wasteful spending between 2010 and 2013. Dr. Wakefield, who has been an AHRQ grantee, chair of AHRQ’s National Advisory Council and a partner during her tenure as administrator of HRSA, said she is “especially proud of our work to bolster the care delivered to tens of millions of Americans in federally qualified health centers.” AHRQ’s work to boost patient and family engagement in health care was also applauded by speakers Bruce Siegel, M.D., who heads America’s Essential Hospitals; Alice Rivlin, Ph.D., who directs the health policy center at the Brookings Institution; and Beverley Johnson, who heads the board of the Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care. AHRQ Director Richard Kronick, Ph.D., noted that the agency’s work provides a good return on investment for American taxpayers. "AHRQ's budget is approximately 0.01 percent of national health expenditures,” Dr. Kronick said. “This is a minuscule investment in making the remaining 99.99 percent of health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable and affordable." Presentations from the October 4-6 conference, which was co-hosted by AcademyHealth, will be available on the AHRQ website in the coming weeks.
American Board of Medical Specialties To Offer Credits to Physicians Participating in AHRQ EvidenceNOW Initiative
The American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) has announced that it will provide an extra incentive for physicians participating in AHRQ’s EvidenceNOW: Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care initiative. ABMS issued a press release on October 5 noting that physicians who are board certified by one of 20 of the 24 ABMS member boards may now receive maintenance of certification credit for participating in EvidenceNOW. The goal of EvidenceNOW is to help clinicians in small primary care practices systematically implement the latest evidence to help prevent heart attacks and stroke. Through seven regional cooperatives, EvidenceNOW will provide quality improvement services for approximately 1,750 practices with more than 5,000 primary care professionals serving approximately 8 million people.
AHRQ Brief: Opioid Prescriptions Climbed Nearly 68 Percent From 2002 to 2012
Outpatient prescriptions for opioids-- pain medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine -- increased nearly 68 percent from 2002 to 2012, according to a recent AHRQ Medical Expenditure Panel Survey statistical brief. Opioid prescription purchases rose from 85.9 million in 2002 to 143.9 million in 2012. During this period, total expenses for these prescriptions climbed from $4.1 billion to $9 billion, an increase of about 120 percent; the number of people purchasing one or more opioid prescriptions increased from about 27 million to nearly 37 million.
AHRQ Study Finds Newborns Face Modest Risk of Hypertension if Mothers Take Antidepressants While Pregnant
Newborn babies have a modest risk of hypertension if their mothers took a widely prescribed antidepressant drug late in pregnancy, according to a study in the June 2 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study examines the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the risk associated with newborns’ persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), a life-threatening condition in which babies do not get enough oxygen due to high blood pressure. AHRQ-funded researchers studied records of nearly 3.8 million women, of whom 128,950 filled at least one prescription for depression medications late in pregnancy -- 102,179 using an SSRI and 26,771 using a non-SSRI antidepressant. They found that 7,630 infants not exposed to any antidepressant were diagnosed with PPHN (20.8 per 10,000 births), compared with 322 who had been exposed to an SSRI (31.5 per 10,000 births) and 78 who had been exposed to a non-SSRI (29.1 per 10,000 births).
Adults With HIV Have 1.5 Times Higher Hospital Readmission Risk: AHRQ Study
Adults living with HIV are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days than those not infected with the virus, according to a new AHRQ study. Risk-adjusted 30-day hospital readmission rates are a commonly used benchmark for hospital care quality and Medicare reimbursement. In this study, researchers used AHRQ’s 2011 Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project hospital discharge data from nine State Inpatient Databases to compare readmission rates. Nonadjusted readmission rates for people without HIV were 11.2 percent and were 19.7 percent for those with HIV. Predicted, adjusted readmission rates were higher for people with HIV in every insurance category, including Medicaid and Medicare, and within every diagnostic category. The findings should encourage policymakers and insurers to consider HIV status when setting readmission standards, researchers said. The study,“Thirty-Day Hospital Readmissions for Adults With and Without HIV Infection,” and abstract were published July 14 in the journal HIV Medicine.
Featured Case Study: AHRQ’s Medical Office Survey Helps Colorado Clinics Provide Better Care
Results from an AHRQ-developed patient safety survey, the Medical Office Survey on Patient Safety Culture, prompted Yuma District Hospital and Clinics in northeast Colorado to improve patient handoffs and hire a “patient navigator” to help patients with diabetes and other conditions patients get appropriate and timely care. The case study is availablehere.