AHRQ 2.0: Reimagining Our Path to Better and Safer Health Care
It’s been three exciting months since I became AHRQ’s director. I’ve been busy meeting with members of AHRQ’s talented staff, as well as key stakeholders, Agency partners, and representatives of other Federal agencies. Throughout, I’ve been receiving updates on Agency programs, and brainstorming ideas about how to position AHRQ for future success.
A recent day represented a particularly important milestone: my first chance to meet with the members of AHRQ’s National Advisory Council (NAC).
The Advisory Council—volunteer experts representing health care plans, providers, purchasers, consumers, and researchers—contributes important perspectives on how AHRQ might best catalyze improvements to the quality and safety of our Nation’s health care system. The Council also represents a valuable sounding board on how to integrate and leverage enterprise-level data to answer today’s unanswered questions—as well as questions we have yet to consider.
The meeting was a terrific opportunity for NAC members to engage in AHRQ’s ongoing work. And, indeed, discussions were robust about AHRQ’s activities to support continuous improvements in health care quality.
The meeting was also a chance for me to articulate my vision for the Agency going forward.
When I started at AHRQ, back in May, Secretary Price had just launched his "Reimagine HHS" initiative. He asked all 79,000 HHS employees, myself included, to think broadly about how we can serve the American people more effectively and more efficiently—and in particular, how we can put the patient first in all we do.
As this valuable effort moved forward, I seized the chance to initiate a "Reimagine AHRQ" exercise. Ideas came forward from staff members across the Agency. Four compelling themes emerged:
- Accelerating health system improvement.
- Ensuring better decisions through data.
- Supporting whole person care.
- Creating the next generation of scientists.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that AHRQ is well-positioned to excel in these areas. My confidence comes from an increasing appreciation for AHRQ’s strengths: highly regarded research on quality and safety; ongoing development of tools and training to implement evidence into practice; and the effective use of data and analytics to track health care trends.
These core competencies also position AHRQ to contribute significantly to ongoing HHS efforts to address Secretary Price’s priorities: reversing the opioid epidemic, improving mental health services, and confronting childhood obesity.
In addition to these priority issues, which I call "burning platforms," Secretary Price has targeted other areas of need. They include the day-to-day burden on physicians, the interoperability of data, and the insufficient use of evidence. I refer to these areas as "pain points."
My overarching goal is for AHRQ to leverage its core competencies in ways that address the Secretary’s priorities. If we do this successfully, we will improve conditions for physicians, speed the transfer of scientific discovery to the bedside, and improve the use of evidence.
AHRQ is a treasure chest of reliable evidence and practical evidence-based tools. We must develop new and innovative partnerships to ensure that more health systems, doctors, nurses, patients, and communities are using them. The potential return on investment is extraordinarily high, as is the potential benefit to American patients. We need innovative ways to exponentially increase the uptake and spread of our work.
My vision for AHRQ leverages our core competencies and lays the groundwork for an "AHRQ 2.0." Each step forward will position us to address the key questions of today—and the questions of tomorrow—to improve the health and health care of all Americans.
Gopal Khanna is Director of AHRQ
Page originally created August 2017