AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting: Virtual, but Vital as Ever
A little over a year ago, many of us were eagerly preparing to participate in AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting, which was held here in Washington, D.C.
What a difference a year makes. AcademyHealth’s 2020 Annual Research Meeting, which kicks off today, will of course be a virtual event. I know we are all disappointed to miss the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and colleagues in person. But, thanks to the efforts of AcademyHealth President and CEO Lisa Simpson and her tireless staff, the meeting’s virtual format will not detract from its vitality. In these extraordinary times, the need for high-quality health services research (HSR) and primary care research has never been more necessary.
The healthcare landscape is in a state of near-constant flux, with developing technologies, new innovations in the availability and use of data, and demographic changes all shaking up the field. The opioids crisis and other substance use challenges continue to devastate American communities; despite our continued focused attention on alleviating the crisis, approximately 10.3 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids in 2018, and opioids were involved in about two-thirds of the more than 67,000 drug overdose deaths in 2018.
Given all this, could the work of the health services researcher possibly be any more essential?
More than ever, we face challenges in delivering safe, high-quality, high-value healthcare in a just and equitable way. To do that, we need good evidence about what works, for whom, and under what circumstances. Health services researchers continue to make that promise a reality by studying how the health system works and how to improve care—including how to support patients and providers.
This is why I encourage you to attend the Annual Research Meeting virtually.
AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna, MBA, Addresses AcademyHealth 2020 Annual Research Meeting (1 minute 35 seconds)
Alternative Audio Described Version (1 minute 35 seconds)
AHRQ has long enjoyed a mutually beneficial, supportive relationship with the HSR community. Specifically:
- We are supporting rapid-cycle research on the opioids crisis and on the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the awarding of $5 million in grants this fiscal year to evaluate our collective responsiveness to the pandemic.
- Our state-of-the-art data analytics products, led by the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, give health services researchers the tools they need to quantify trends in healthcare delivery and spending.
- And, we continue to lead the way on patient safety research, including our recent report on 47 practices aimed at improving safety across healthcare settings. This is always important, and especially essential during the pandemic. In that vein, I especially encourage you to check out the Annual Research Meeting session led by AHRQ’s Dr. Jeffrey Brady, director of our Center for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety. That session, “Patient Safety’s Third Decade: Healthcare Improvement Powered by Research,” will begin at 2:30 pm Eastern on Tuesday, August 4, and promises to be an informative overview of the patient safety movement’s present and future.
More than ever we need to challenge ourselves to make sure our research is relevant and timely, and serves the needs of our stakeholders. That was confirmed by findings in the independent report, conducted by Rand, to assess federally funded HSR and primary care research conducted between 2012 and 2018. The goal was to increase the impact of research by identifying research gaps and proposing strategies for better coordination across the Federal enterprise. AHRQ contracted with the RAND Corporation to conduct this independent analysis.
The report found that HSR has made a difference in patients’ lives, and that there are opportunities for new types of HSR that can improve its impact. In addition, the report found that primary care research is critical and underfunded, but has likewise had a significant impact on patients’ lives and the quality, safety, and value of the healthcare services they receive. AHRQ has made the full report, along with summaries of the findings and recommendations, publicly available on our web site.
If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to review, digest, and react to this report. AHRQ is eager to hear your thoughts about how we can achieve its recommendations. We will offer a formal session later this year to engage with stakeholders directly, but we are impatient: we want to get the conversation started now, with your help!
As we soldier on through the present and look eagerly toward the future, I again want to congratulate our colleagues at AcademyHealth and its Annual Research Meeting participants for maintaining a venue for the field to come together at this critical time.
We must not let today’s challenges, monumental though they may be, deter us from the critical work at hand and achieving the potential that HSR holds for the health and wellbeing of the American people.
Gopal Khanna is Director of AHRQ.