Leaving AHRQ With Pride in its Successful Efforts to Improve American Health Care
After two and one-half stimulating, exciting, and fun years at AHRQ, I will soon be leaving the Agency to return to the University of California, San Diego.
I am sad to leave, but very proud of what we have accomplished together, and grateful for AHRQ staff’s dedication and commitment to the Agency and to improving the quality, safety, affordability, accessibility, and equitability of health care. As I reflect on AHRQ’s many accomplishments over the past couple of years, I am especially impressed by our work to improve hospital safety, which has resulted in 87,000 lives saved over the past 4 years and our work in launching EvidenceNOW and the grants on comparative health systems performance. As with all research and dissemination and implementation efforts, the proof is in the pudding, but I’m quite optimistic.
Other work that stands out is AHRQ’s contributions to wider Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) efforts on delivery system reform, combatting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and battling the opioid epidemic; helping the the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force navigate the complexities of the breast cancer screening recommendation; improvements to the timeliness, scope, and accessibility of the HCUP (Health Care Cost and Utilization Project) data (including the launch of Fast Stats); enhancements to the Quality Indicators; improvements in the completeness of MEPS (Medical Expenditure Panel Survey) data; and a large bolus of high-impact intramural research from staff throughout the Agency.
We have collectively focused AHRQ’s work on our three core activities: producing research and evidence to improve the functioning of the health care system; producing tools and training materials to make sure that the evidence is understood and used; and investing in data and measures used by providers, patients, and policy-makers.
I have been inspired by the way AHRQ has worked together facing all the opportunities and challenges that have come our way. I have greatly enjoyed my tenure at AHRQ, and look forward every day to coming to work. I have learned a tremendous amount, and thank everyone for their generosity in welcoming me to the Agency and making the lasttwo and one-half years so successful.
My sadness at leaving AHRQ is tempered only by the knowledge that AHRQ’s leadership is in good hands. I am delighted that HHS Secretary Burwell has asked Dr. Sharon Arnold, Deputy Director of AHRQ, to serve as Acting Director, and grateful that Sharon has agreed to do so. I know that Sharon’s excellent judgment, good humor, and strong managerial skills will serve AHRQ in good stead.