Change and the Road Ahead for AHRQ
In today's world, change is inevitable and accelerating—even if we would rather pull the bed sheets over our heads and ignore it! The challenge rests in our response to change. Are we adaptable? Creative? Collaborative?
Since I joined AHRQ as director in May, I've concluded that understanding and embracing change is central to building on AHRQ's impressive legacy in health services research. This is a time unlike any other, an era of unprecedented availability of health care data. It is imperative to react to these developments with quickness, agility and a strong sense of purpose.
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price, M.D., recently challenged AHRQ and other HHS agencies us to re-examine our work as an important first step to amplifying our positive impact on the Nation's health care. So we're doing just that.
Early brainstorming sessions have been aimed at improving AHRQ's strong work. We're focusing on our unique role of advancing the safety and quality of health care and what we can accomplish in the future. While we are still working on the specifics, I’m excited by the early themes that have developed though this exercise.
As we consider ways to reshape and amplify AHRQ's work, we're also eager to continue to advance the priorities that Secretary Price has identified as most urgent: the opioid crisis, mental illness, and childhood obesity. The team at AHRQ is gratified to that our work is already aligned with these vital areas.
The Nation's growing opioid crisis is better understood, for example, thanks to AHRQ's ongoing collection and analysis of data on opioid-related hospital care. To increase mental health services in primary care, AHRQ developed an online portal to help practices integrate primary care and behavioral health. We also offer access to resources on treatment options for clinicians, patients, and policymakers on topics such as depression, binge eating disorder, and behavioral disorders. Our Chartbook on Healthy Living helps policymakers and others track the Nation's progress related to nutrition advice and efforts to encourage exercise among children.
Understanding the importance AHRQ's work will be top of mind in the coming days as I continue my introductory meetings with the Agency's numerous stakeholder organizations. I recently had a chance to meet with Lisa Simpson, MB, B.Ch., MPH, who heads AcademyHealth, as well as others in the health services research field. We discussed how AHRQ is working toward advancing the Secretary's priorities as well as how AHRQ can adapt and thrive in a time or rapid change.
At AcademyHealth's June 24-26 annual meeting in New Orleans—my first AcademyHealth meeting—I expect to learn more about AHRQ's impressive track record in health services research.
I'm particularly excited to attend a session on June 25 from 4-5 p.m. when AHRQ Deputy Director Sharon Arnold, Ph.D., and I will participate in a panel discussion on the current and future directions of AHRQ. I hope many of you can attend the discussion and contribute to the feedback.
And if you're unable to attend the session, please be sure to stop by AHRQ's exhibit booth (#312) for the latest news on funding opportunities and tools for health care quality and safety improvement. I'm excited to meet our grantees and others in the field of health services research while I'm out and about. If you spot me, please do stop and say hello!
Gopal Khanna, M.B.A., is director of AHRQ.
Page originally created June 2017