In The News

Toward Evidence-Based Policy Making to Reduce Wasteful Health Care Spending

In this issue of JAMA, Shrank and colleagues report a thorough review of studies published over the past decade to provide updated estimates on the proportion of US health care spending that is wasteful, defined in 6 broad categories: ...
[ Full article ]

Health Care Systems, Public Health, and Communities: Population Health Improvements

Risk factors for chronic disease are multiple and interrelated, having roots in individuals, families, and communities and requiring coordinated strategies across multiple levels and sectors to create conditions that promote and sustain optimal health.


This collection places emphasis on the fact that public health cannot reduce chronic disease rates alone, and neither can health care. Instead, this collection features 16 articles that explore a wide array of new approaches for improving systems and addressing upstream causes, sharing early outcomes and identifying changes in workflows to ease implementation and promote sustainability of improvements.

AHRQ Releases New Resources for Providing Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

AHRQ’s Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder (MAT for OUD) Playbook serves as a comprehensive guide for implementing MAT in primary care and other ambulatory care settings. The online, interactive playbook contains the latest guidance, tools and resources to address MAT implementation.
[ Full article ]

AHRQ 20 years

After 20 Years of Improving America’s Healthcare, AHRQ Makes Bold Plans for Future Successes
[ Full article ]

AHRQ Advances Pain Management

AHRQ Advances Pain Management Through Greater Use of Digital Technology
[ Full article ]

AHRQ National Healthcare Quality & Disparities Report

2018 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report
[ Full article ]

Did you Double Check? Communicating with Older Adults

After communicating with older adults and addressing health literacy barriers, take one last step and check your work. Ask yourself have I:

  • considered their comfort with technology and online health information
  • researched the health literacy issues for my older adult population

For more of these tips, visit the Clear Communication Checklist on our website.

1,402,582 Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions under an Accountable Care Organization - reported care management and coordination efforts fall short:

 

[ Full article ]

Engaging Patients in Their Care Decisions To Promote Better Health and Well-Being

Engaging patients in decisions about their care has been shown to contribute to positive health outcomes, but physicians and patients need tools to better guide informed conversations, according to AHRQ grantee Alex H. Krist, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Krist, a professor in the department of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond, advocates engaging patients in care decisions that are based on the best available evidence and helping them play a more active role in creating their own care plans. His work as an AHRQ-funded primary care researcher and as a clinician and faculty member in VCU’s family medicine residency program reflects this conviction.

For example, when patients learn about the benefits and risks of screening recommendations, “they can really be active participants in managing their health and working with their care team to get the care they want,” Dr. Krist said.  Engaged patients can also ask more informed questions or raise concerns about screenings for breast, prostate, and colon cancer, which collectively account for 10 percent of all U.S. primary care visits, according to Dr. Krist. 

He received an AHRQ-funded grant in 2007 to create an interactive preventive health record called MyPreventiveCare that was designed to help patients better understand their care options in a manner that reflects their individual values and concerns. The health record combined information about a patient’s clinical status, family history, and health behaviors with preventive care recommendations, including those from the U. S. Preventive Services Task Force Link to Exit Disclaimer (USPSTF), of which Dr. Krist is a vice chair.  Patients had access to a personalized overview of preventive services in plain language, as well as motivational messages, links to additional resources, decision aids, and reminders.

Initially implemented in eight primary care practices in Virginia, the tool helped prepare patients and clinicians for specific conversations or decisions, according to Dr. Krist. “Patients can go in and have a whole different discussion with their clinician, whether it’s a more shared decision, or whether it’s participating more in creating their treatment plans,” he said. The system is now used by nearly 50 practices in five States.

Engaging patients with multiple chronic conditions can be more challenging for physicians, however. These patients have complex needs that can be exacerbated by untreated mental health issues, social needs, or unhealthy behaviors. 

That’s why Dr. Krist’s latest AHRQ-funded grant, awarded in 2019, will help primary care physicians better understand how to engage patients with multiple chronic conditions in creating their own care plans, with the larger goal of addressing the root causes of poor health.

In the project, patients will be screened for certain health risks and will work with clinicians to prioritize their health needs.  When clinicians engage patients with multiple chronic conditions, patients generally identify one or two concerns that are most important to them, according to Dr. Krist.  “There’s a reason they’re identifying it. Maybe it’s something they feel they have an ability to change.”  Based on this information, clinicians will create a care plan that reflects patients’ preferences. 

Dr. Krist is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2018.