AHRQ Views: Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
Supporting Internists in Improving Primary Care
This week, while attending the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM) 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., I'll join AHRQ colleagues in a presentation, "Moving Evidence Into Practice: An Update from AHRQ." As you may know from reading the AHRQ Views blogs, this is one of my favorite subjects: how AHRQ is getting information into the hands of clinicians to help support them in caring for their patients.
Because general internists and other primary care physicians work on the front lines of care, they are deeply invested in their patients and keeping pace with new research findings. In this way, they're uniquely positioned to be part of health care organizations that are striving to be learning health care systems—organizations that systematically gather, create, and apply evidence to improve care.
Among AHRQ's highest priorities are investments in research that explore how primary care practices can continue the momentum toward keeping patients safe, improving quality, and analyzing data captured during routine care to create new insights and accelerate improvement.
Here are some examples of key AHRQ investments exploring new practice models that can improve care in fundamental ways:
- EvidenceNOW is the largest primary care research investment in AHRQ history. Regional cooperatives are working with more than 1,500 primary care practices in 12 States to improve the heart health of nearly 8 million patients. The cooperatives provide quality improvement services, such as onsite coaching, consultation from experts in health care delivery improvement, and electronic health record support.
- AHRQ grantees are exploring strategies to help primary care practices and rural communities confront the opioid crisis through effective use of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Our focus is helping clinicians overcome barriers to the use of MAT, such as limited training opportunities, negative perceptions about people addicted to opioids, negative expectations about the effectiveness of treatment, and lack of social support services in rural communities. The primary care practices involved in the initiative may provide access to MAT to as many as 20,000 individuals struggling with opioid addiction.
- Our TeamSTEPPS® for Office-Based Care curriculum offers techniques, tools, and strategies to assist health care professionals develop team knowledge and improve performance in office-based care. The training offers teams simple, practical, and evidence-based ways to work better together.
As time goes on, we expect our investments to yield findings that further advance the Nation's delivery of safe, quality health care. EvidenceNOW, our opioids initiative, the Agency's work in patient safety, and other AHRQ projects are built upon the critical work general internists do every day. Together we are learning what works and how to spread evidence effectively—central tenants of learning health care organizations.
Our biggest challenge, and our greatest opportunity, is taking the tremendous advances in health care research and turning them into usable, actionable information that doctors and teams can use to improve care. The potential for success is enormous, but only with the ongoing contributions and involvement of SGIM members and all who seek to make primary care the best it can be.
Dr. Arnold is Acting Director of AHRQ.