iLoveBenefits: Industry News Blog

Quality of Care and Patient Safety Are Improving, Particularly for Hospital Care, Though Additional Work Remains

New AHRQ Report:

The overall quality of health care and patient safety are improving, particularly for hospital care and for measures that are being publicly reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to the newly released 2014 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Among the highlights in this year’s report:

  • Hospital care was safer in 2013 than in 2010, with 17 percent fewer harms to patients and an estimated 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions, 50,000 fewer deaths, and $12 billion in cost savings over three years (2011, 2012, 2013). However, quality is still far from optimal, with millions of patients harmed by the care they receive, and only 70 percent of recommended care being delivered across a broad array of quality measures.
  • A few disparities among racial groups for services such as childhood vaccinations have been reduced to zero; however, much additional work remains to address a broad range of other disparities affecting quality of care.

This year’s report has been consolidated and tracks performance measures that align with the National Quality Strategy. Chartbooks on specific topics such as patient safety and care coordination will be issued in coming months to provide more detailed information and easy-to-understand slides that can be downloaded for presentations.

The report provides a snapshot of health care quality and disparities based on trend analyses from 2000-2002 to 2011-2012 (except for select measures of access to care tracked through the first half of 2014, and for adverse events in hospitals tracked through 2013). Because most data precede implementation of a majority of the health insurance expansions included in the Affordable Care Act, the report serves as a baseline for measuring progress in future years.

Select here to download your complimentary copy of the report. To order a print copy, email or call 1-800-358-9295.

Updated National Quality Strategy Stakeholder Toolkit Features New Content and Graphics

Organizations can now use an updated National Quality Strategy (NQS) Stakeholder Toolkit to show alignment with and support of the NQS. The updated toolkit includes new graphics, Web content and social media content that can help organizations advance the mission of the NQS. The National Quality Strategy helps align public- and private-sector stakeholders across the country to achieve better health and health care for all Americans. It is led by AHRQ on behalf of HHS.

January 7, 2015 | Categories: healthcare,quality | Tags: , , , | Comments (0)

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it

AHRQ outlines approaches for measuring primary care treatments The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released a tool designed to help measure the effects of primary care interventions. “Effective evaluation can help determine the best ways to improve primary care health and cost outcomes as well as patient, clinician and staff experiences,” the AHRQ said. Clinical Innovation + Technology online

YouTube Channel Focuses on Health Information Technology Successes

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s new YouTube channel, AHRQ HealthIT highlights successful health information technology (IT) projects that focus on ways to enhance quality measurement, preventive care and medication management. These videos provide insights for health services researchers, health care providers, and patient advocates on how AHRQ research supports the use of health IT to improve quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of care.

Practice Facilitators and Case Managers Can Help Enhance the Primary Care Team

Efforts to redesign primary care require multiple supports. Two potential members of the primary care team — the practice facilitator and care manager — play distinct roles in redesigning and improving care delivery, according to a new AHRQ study. Facilitators, also known as quality improvement coaches, help coordinate practices’ quality improvement activities and build capacity for those activities. Care managers coordinate care and help patients navigate the system, improving access and overall communication. These complementary roles are examined in detail in “Enhancing the Primary Care Team to Provide Redesigned Care: The Roles of Practice Facilitators and Care Managers,” which appears in the January/February online issue of Annals of Family Medicine. Select to access the article.

Comparative Effectiveness Defined

What Is Comparative Effectiveness Research
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines comparative effectiveness research (CER) this way: “Comparative effectiveness research is designed to inform health-care decisions by providing evidence on the effectiveness, benefits, and harms of different treatment options. The evidence is generated from research studies that compare drugs, medical devices, tests, surgeries, or ways to deliver health care.” This page is an introduction to CER and includes links to other resources on their site. (AHRQ, October 2012)

AHRQ patient safety project reduces bloodstream infections by 40 percent

This from AHRQ (Agency Healthcare Research Quality)

       A unique nationwide patient safety project funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reduced the rate of central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSIs) in intensive care units by 40 percent, according to the agency’s preliminary findings of the largest national effort to combat CLABSIs to date.  The project used the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) to achieve its landmark results that include preventing more than 2,000 CLABSIs, saving more than 500 lives and avoiding more than $34 million in health care costs.

The agency and key project partners from the American Hospital Association (AHA) and Johns Hopkins Medicine discussed these dramatic findings at the AHRQ annual conference today in Bethesda, Md., and introduced the CUSP toolkit that helped hospitals accomplish this marked reduction.

“CUSP shows us that with the right tools and resources, safety problems like these deadly infections can be prevented,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. “This project gives us a framework for taking research to scale in practical ways that help front-line clinicians provide the safest care possible for their patients.”

CLABSIs are one type of healthcare-associated infection (HAI). HAIs are infections that affect patients while they are receiving treatment for another condition in a health care setting. HAIs are a common complication of hospital care, affecting one in 20 patients in hospitals at any point in time.

The national project involved hospital teams at more than 1,100 adult intensive care units (ICUs) in 44 states over a 4-year period.   Preliminary findings indicate that hospitals participating in this project reduced the rate of CLABSIs nationally from 1.903 infections per 1,000 central line days to 1.137 infections per 1,000 line days, an overall reduction of 40 percent.

The CUSP is a customizable program that helps hospital units address the foundation of how clinical teams care for patients.  It combines clinical best practices with an understanding of the science of safety, improved safety culture, and an increased focus on teamwork.  Based on the experiences gained in this successful project, the CUSP toolkit helps doctors, nurses, and other members of the clinical team understand how to identify safety problems and gives them the tools to tackle these problems that threaten the safety of their patients.  It includes teaching tools and resources to support implementation at the unit level.

The first broad-scale application of CUSP was in Michigan, under the leadership of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association, where it was used to significantly reduce CLABSIs in that state.  Following that success, CUSP was expanded to 10 states and then nationally through an AHRQ contract to the Health Research & Educational Trust, the research arm of the AHA.

“This partnership between the federal government and hospitals provides clear evidence that we can protect patients from these deadly infections,” said AHA President and CEO Richard J. Umbdenstock. “Hospitals remain committed to curtailing CLABSIs and enhancing safety in all clinical settings. Tools such as CUSP go a long way toward accomplishing that goal.”

CUSP was created by a team led by Peter J. Pronovost, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “It is gratifying that this method has become such a powerful engine for improving the quality and safety of care nationwide,” said Dr. Pronovost.  “It is a really simple concept; trust the wisdom of your front-line clinicians.”

In addition, CUSP also builds on important work led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its evidence-based recommendations on treating infections.  Together with HHS’ National Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare Associated Infections ( and the Partnership for Patients (, AHRQ’s efforts are a part of a coordinated approach drawing on the strengths and expertise across HHS.

Details about AHRQ’s national CUSP project are available at  AHRQ’s CUSP toolkit is available at

AHRQ releases additional tools to help hospitals improve quality

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has released two more audio interviews in a series focused on the use of quality improvement tools in the AHRQ Quality IndicatorsTM Toolkit for Hospitals. The toolkit is a free resource to guide hospitals through the process of using the AHRQ Inpatient Quality Indicators (IQIs) and Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) to improve care.

  • Identifying Your Improvement Priorities: Julie Cerese from UHC discusses how hospitals can determine which quality indicators are most important for them to improve performance. 
  • Analyzing Your Barriers and Strategy Options: Maureen Disbot from Methodist Hospital HealthSystem talks about what hospitals can to do bridge the gap between current practices and best practices. 

Download these interviews at (Audio file and transcript are available.)

Also available:

  • Getting Started with the AHRQ QI Toolkit
  • Analyzing Your IQI and PSI Rates
  • Using the Documentation and Coding Tool

Future podcasts will address the following topics:

  • Implementing Changes to Improve Performance on the IQI or PSI Measures
  • Achieving Sustainable Improvements

Download the AHRQ Quality IndicatorsTM Toolkit for Hospitals at:

Access the slide presentations and an audio recording from an introductory Webinar about the Toolkit at:

Looking for information about a disease or ailment – look here first at AHRQ

AHRQ, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality publishes informational pamphlets on many common diseases and ailments. You can find a wealth of information at their website.

The Effective Health Care Program develops a wide array of products from its patient centered outcomes research. These products include tools and resources to help consumers, clinicians, policymakers, and others make more informed health care decisions. The Program also produces products for researchers and others interested in the systematic study of evidence and research methods.

Looking for an Effective Health Care Program review or report? Search for Guides, Reviews, and Reports.

See Research Summaries for Consumers, Clinicians and Policymakers for plain language reviews of Effective Health Care Program published research studies.

Read more here:

New AHRQ Toolkit Supports Hospital Efforts To Improve Quality and Safety


The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) released today a free toolkit designed to guide hospitals through the process of using the AHRQ Inpatient Quality Indicators (IQIs) and Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) to improve care. The AHRQ Quality IndicatorsTM Toolkit for Hospitals is designed and tested to meet the needs of a variety of hospital-based users, including senior leaders, quality staff, and multistakeholder improvement teams. AHRQ developed these research-based tools through a 2-year contract with RAND in collaboration with UHC.


The toolkit includes an “Introduction and Roadmap” to help users identify the resources that are best suited to their specific needs at any given point in the improvement process. It is organized into seven sections:


  1. Determining Readiness To Change
  2. Applying QIs to the Hospital Data
  3. Identifying Priorities for Quality Improvement
  4. Implementing Improvements
  5. Monitoring Progress for Sustainable Improvements
  6. Analyzing Return on Investment
  7. Using Other Resources

Download the toolkit at:


To learn more about the toolkit from the developers and hear from a quality expert at a hospital that tested it, register for a free AHRQ-sponsored Webinar on February 15 from 2:30-4:00 p.m. ET:


The Webinar “How To Improve Performance on the AHRQ Inpatient Quality and Patient Safety Indicators: Introducing a Toolkit for Hospitals” will cover:


  • The purpose of the toolkit.
  • How it was developed.
  • How it is organized for easy use.
  • How a hospital has used it to assess performance on the indicators, identify priorities, and implement changes to improve quality and safety.


For more information on the AHRQ Quality Indicators, visit: .

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