Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

AHRQ - the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality - sometimes pronounced "ark," is part of the Department of Health and Human Services with a mission
"to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. Information from AHRQ's research helps people make more informed decisions and improve the quality of health care services."
Sounds good to me; so why hadn't I heard of AHRQ until a few years ago? AHRQ was originally known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, but the purview has changed over time from policy to health services. The simplest definition of what AHRQ does is that the agency figures out what does and does not work in terms of health and health care and then translates that information into "everyday practice and policymaking."

As comparative effectiveness and personalized medicine become more prominent and health care reform begins to take effect, data collected by AHRQ helps improve efficiency and safety for everyone receiving any amount of health care in America.
“The essence of care delivery is in dramatic, urgent need of improvement. We know that the translation of science into practice takes far too long. We also know that we can improve that. We are working toward reliable and affordable quality care for all. Science is clearly going to be a key part of that.”
—Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

With less than 350 people on staff, AHRQ is relatively small in comparison to some other government health research agencies, but their work is just as important and is a perfect complement to translating the research and practices of its sister agencies like the National Institutes of Health (which we'll be covering later in this series).

This is Part 3 in the Introduction to Federal Agencies series.
Part 1 - Acronyms, Abbreviations and Agencies
Part 2 - A-B...C-D-C?

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