AHRQ Fiscal Year 2001
The Budget in Brief summarizes the President's Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 budget request for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The mission of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is to support research designed to improve the quality of health care, reduce its cost, improve patient safety, address medical errors, and broaden access to essential services. AHRQ sponsors and conducts research that provides evidence-based information on health care outcomes; quality; and cost, use, and access. The information helps health care decisionmakers—patients and clinicians, health system leaders, and policymakers—make more informed decisions and improve the quality of health care services.
Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 Appropriation
In FY 2001, AHRQ received an appropriation of $269,943,000, an increase of $66,144,000 (32.5 percent) over the Agency's FY 2000 appropriation. AHRQ's staff level, or full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, in FY 2001 is 294, an increase of nine over the FY 2000 level. The appropriation fully funds research grant and contract commitments to improve the quality of health care, reduce its cost, and broaden access to essential services.
In FY 2001, AHRQ will focus on two new priorities:
- Improving Patient Safety—$50,000,000.
- Improving Healthcare Worker Health—$10,000,000.
Improving Patient Safety—$50,000,000
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report To Err is Human alerted the Nation that errors occur too frequently in the care of patients. It estimated that between 44,000 and 98,000 people die each year due to medical errors—more deaths annually than breast cancer and auto accidents—and that more are harmed. The IOM recognized that safety does not reside in a person, device, or department but emerges from the interactions of components of a system. The IOM report concluded that many errors can be avoided, or their potentially harmful effects on patients minimized, if we can learn from the errors that occur to understand how to redesign the processes and systems of care to be more safe.
In FY 2001, AHRQ proposes a broad research initiative that will:
- Further our understanding of when, how, and under what circumstances errors occur.
- Identify the causes of errors.
- Develop the tools, data, and researchers needed to foster a national strategy to improve patient safety.
- Work with public and private partners to apply evidence-based approaches to the improvement of patient safety.
Improving Healthcare Worker Health—$10,000,000
The $10 million appropriated in FY 2001 for the health of health care workers will allow AHRQ to support research to develop an understanding of:
- How the environment of care impacts the ability of providers to improve safety (e.g., the effect of fatigue, stress, sleep deprivation, and shift work on cognitive ability and the relationship to patient safety).
- How interactions with the physical environment affect the provision of safe care.
AHRQ will also focus on the relationship between health care quality and the assignment of work to health care workers, including new approaches to work shifts and working hours.
The future of the field and the vision for health services research come from the scientific community—investigators who are on the front line of the clinical, health system, and health policy problems to be resolved through health services research. The nurturing of novel research approaches, concepts, and directions is essential for progress within the health services research field.
There is no better way to enhance the diversity and productivity of research approaches than to actively encourage and support peer-reviewed, investigator-initiated research. This strategy has been fundamental to the success of the Nation's biomedical enterprise and is just as important in research on health care quality, outcomes, cost, use, and access.
The National Healthcare Quality Report
The Agency's reauthorization calls for the development of a national report on the quality of health care in the United States. In developing this report, the Agency is called on to expand the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to collect information on quality. In addition, the Agency is charged with assuring coordination with the private sector, which will be involved in determining the scope and content of the report and providing data for its development.
The Medical Expenditures Panel Survey (MEPS)
The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey collects detailed information regarding the use and payment for health care services from a nationally representative sample of U.S. resident. Since 1977, AHRQ's expenditure surveys have been an important and unique resource for public and private sector decisionmakers.
No other surveys supported by the Federal Government or the private sector provide this level of detail regarding:
- The health care services used by people in this country at the household level and their associated expenditures (for families and individuals).
- The cost, scope, and breadth of private health insurance coverage held by and available to the U.S. population.
- The specific services purchased through out-of-pocket and/or third-party payments.
Current as of February 2001
AHRQ Fiscal Year 2001 Budget In Brief. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/about/budbrf01.htm