Healthcare of the Future: AHRQ Conference Covers New Innovations

April 1, 2008 | Healthcare Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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Healthcare quality improvement requires collaboration among healthcare providers as well as the use of technology to support these efforts, according to presenters at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) first annual conference on healthcare innovations. “Improving Healthcare, Improving Lives,” held from September 26 to 28, 2007, in Bethesda, Maryland, provided attendees with information about AHRQ-supported projects and initiatives to improve healthcare quality and cost-effectiveness. Healthcare organizations that have implemented innovative initiatives also shared their strategies and lessons learned from their projects.

Conference presentations focused on areas such as privacy, security, data sharing, and the public trust; medication management and safety; value and sustainability in healthcare; improving decision making in healthcare; patient safety and quality; and system design and organizational change. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) new Value-Driven Health Care Initiative was also discussed. (For more information, see HHS’s Value-Driven Health Care Initiative. ) This article will highlight three topics from the conference: teamwork in healthcare, an example of a system for improving nurse handoffs, and an example of a system to improve emergency department (ED) process flow. Healthcare organizations may want to refer to AHRQ’s Innovations Exchange Web site as a resource to learn more about innovative tools and activities used by other organizations or to submit information about innovations used at their own facilities. (See AHRQ’s Innovations Exchange. )

Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D., director of AHRQ, expressed that in her opinion, the healthcare of the future is “information rich and information sharing,” with patient-centeredness as an important component. She summarized the themes of the conference as the power of collaboration, the power of transparency, and the power of shared learning. Healthcare providers should have the “capacity to say there isn’t a path, but we’re going to make one,” she said.

Many healthcare facilities are incorporating teamwork principles in their efforts to improve patient safety. “Patients across the world are safer in healthcare delivery systems where teamwork principles are practiced on...

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