Research to Transform Primary Care
Primary Care Research Initiatives
Over the past decade, AHRQ has made major investments to better understand the challenges primary care practices face as they work to provide higher quality care and better health outcomes. These investments also produced evidence about what works best in creating and sustaining infrastructure to assist practices with their quality improvement efforts.
Examples of major primary care research initiatives and activities include:
- Improving Management of Opioids and Opioid Use Disorder in Older Adults. The number of hospitalizations and emergency department visits related to opioids among older adults is increasing. AHRQ has awarded three grants to develop, implement, evaluate, and disseminate strategies to improve the management of opioid use, misuse, and opioid use disorder (OUD) in older adults in primary care settings. Results are expected in 2023.
- Primary Care-Based Efforts To Reduce Potentially Preventable Readmissions. High rates of readmissions are a major patient safety problem associated with adverse events such as prescribing errors and misdiagnoses of conditions in the hospital and ambulatory care setting. Building on the Agency's previous investments in research in the hospital setting, AHRQ funded a contract to address an important and unfulfilled need by focusing on enhancing the role of primary care with the aim of reducing potentially preventable readmissions.
- Empowering Primary Care Using Data and Analytics to Build a Healthier America. AHRQ has launched a new grant initiative that uses data and analytics to support primary care and community interventions to improve chronic disease prevention and management and population health. Over the next 3 years, three grantee organizations will integrate data on chronic disease, social determinants of health, and community services to create actionable dashboards to support better management of high-risk individuals and populations.
- AHRQ Initiative To Reduce Unhealthy Alcohol Use. AHRQ's initiative to reduce Unhealthy Alcohol Use will disseminate and implement into primary care practices evidence-based approaches to improve the use of screening for unhealthy alcohol use, brief intervention for those at risk, and medication therapy for alcohol use disorder. Together, the 6 grantees are expected to work with more than 700 primary care practices across the country.
- Increasing Access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder in Rural Primary Care Practices. This cooperative grant is discovering how we can best support delivery of MAT in primary care practices and rural communities through innovative technology, including patient-controlled smartphone apps, and remot training and expert consultation using Project ECHO.
- EvidenceNOW. This large-scale initiative helped over 1,500 small- an medium-sized primary care practices across the country use the latest evidence to enable their patients to achieve the ABCS of heart disease prevention: Aspirin use by high-risk individuals, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management, and Smoking cessation. The initiative has produced a large number of tools, resources, and findings.
- Practice-based Research Networks (PBRNs). PBRNs are groups of primary care clinicians and practices working together to answer practical questions about primary care practice, translate research findings into practice, and engage clinicians in quality improvement to improve the health of the patients they serve.
- Improving Care for People with Multiple Chronic Conditions (MCC). AHRQ is working to study and implement new approaches to help primary care teams caring for patients with MCC incorporate patients' life contexts into care plans, so that choices about care meet the needs, preferences, values, and circumstances of the patient.
- Primary Care Workforce. AHRQ is interested in understanding how different configurations of primary care teams affect access to and quality of care. AHRQ has developed optimal workforce configurations to enable primary care practices to provide comprehensive, high-quality, team-based primary care for four defined patient populations. Also, in partnership with the Robert Graham Center, AHRQ helped product The State of Primary Care in the United States: A Chartbook of Facts and Statistics.
- Primary Care Transformation. AHRQ has funded three grant initiatives to identify the difficulties faced by primary care practices as they transform into patient-centered medical homes and to help create an infrastructure to assist them.