News and Updates for Healthcare Professionals

Antibiotic Stewardship: A National Health Priority

Antibiotic stewardship continues to garner national attention, both in the media and at the federal policy level. The first known superbug, or bacterial infection that is resistant to antibiotics of last resort, was recently discovered in the United States. At the same time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is accepting public comments through June 17 on a proposed rule that would allow hospitals to compare their antibiotic prescribing to national benchmarks, and evaluate and improve antimicrobial prescribing as needed.

NQF Releases New Resource to Promote Safer Antibiotic Use

A new resource developed by NQF's National Quality Partners (NQP), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and HCA, provides an urgently needed tool to help acute-care hospitals implement strategies for safer use of antibiotics. Antibiotic Stewardship in Acute Care: A Practical Playbook, is a practical tool to help hospital staff strengthen existing antibiotic stewardship initiatives or create antibiotic stewardship programs from the ground up.

The Playbook will help hospitals comply with new rules from The Joint Commission, expected to go into effect in early 2017, that require hospitals to have antibiotic stewardship programs in place, as well as new criteria expected later this year from The Leapfrog Group.

More than 1,100 people participated in the May 25 Playbook launch webinar, and more than 6,200 people downloaded the Playbook within the first six days of its release. National media joined a special NQF web briefing on antibiotic stewardship and how the Playbook will help hospitals address this life-threatening national public health issue.

Next Steps

In the coming months, NQP plans to assess the effectiveness of the Playbook in hospitals throughout the United States and to explore opportunities to convene stakeholders to develop antibiotic stewardship playbooks for other healthcare settings. If you are interested in sharing feedback on the Playbook or supporting future initiatives, please contact National Quality Partners.

Free Maintenance of Certification Part IV & Performance Improvement CME: Patient Self-Management Support

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has developed a free self-management support (SMS) quality improvement activity that can be implemented by an individual or groups of clinicians. The web-based Maintenance of Certification Part IV & Performance Improvement Continuing Medical Education (MOC Part IV & PI-CME) activity is publically available and can be customized by chronic conditions such as asthma, obesity, depression, diabetes, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and arthritis; making this activity useful to pediatric and adult patients. AHRQ's MOC Part IV & PI-CME medical recertification project enhances the ability of clinicians to help patients better manage chronic conditions. The data collection framework enable clinicians to develop and assess intervention impact of two SMS techniques (shared decision-making about prescription medications and talking about specific health goals). Read more and begin using AHRQ's free MOC Part IV & PI-CME medical recertification module.

For more information about AHRQs Practice Improvement efforts visit the National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research at http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/primary-care/index.html.

Implant for Opioid Addiction Wins FDA Approval

Probuphine will be implanted under the skin for 6 months to treat addiction

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AHRQ Releases Success Stories Shown to Help Engage Patients and Families in Primary Care

New success stories from AHRQ’s patient and family engagement project, Guide to Improving Patient Safety in Primary Care Settings by Engaging Patients and Families, provide demonstrated experience for improving patient safety in primary care:  Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center provided patients with access to their clinical notes, Bellin Health (Green Bay, WI) implemented a comprehensive model of team-based care in primary care leading to improved patient and provider satisfaction and First Street Family Health Center (Salida, CO) formed a patient and family advisory council that transformed the way the practice functions. While the patient engagement effort is underway, project components will be released over the next year to support primary care practices in their efforts to improve patient safety. Access all three success stories, and other resources for providers, practice staff and patients here, and learn more about AHRQ’s patient and family engagement in primary care effort at the project page

Health Datapalooza: New Vistas

May 20, 2016

By: Susannah Fox, Chief Technology Officer of HHS

Every spring, our team in the HHS IDEA Lab gears up for our biggest event of the year: the Health Datapalooza. It’s an annual celebration of the power of data that was started by my predecessor, Todd Park, in 2010. This year, we were honored to hear from an extraordinary lineup of leaders from private industry, academia and the federal government, including Vice President Biden.

I thought I’d share excerpts from three of my colleagues’ speeches, to give people a sense of the scope and depth of the discussions.

Read More: Health Datapalooza: New Vistas

FDA: Avoid Cipro, Similar Drugs for Common Infections

Agency says risks outweigh benefits

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Now Available: National Quality Strategy 5th Anniversary Update

At the 5-year anniversary of the National Quality Strategy, progress is being made towards the three aims of the National Quality Strategy, to provide better, more affordable care for individuals and the community, according to the new 2015 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report and 5th Anniversary Update on the National Quality Strategy. For the first time, this year's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report and the National Quality Strategy Annual Progress Report are integrated, providing a comprehensive update on the Nation’s progress in improving health care access, quality, and disparities.

Key findings from the new report include:

  • More people have health care coverage, have a usual place to go for medical care, and can more easily afford medical bills after the Affordable Care Act’s provisions have taken effect.
  • More people had a usual place to go for medical care. The percentage of people with a usual place to go for medical care increased overall for Blacks and Hispanics. Hispanics showed the biggest gains in this measure, climbing from 77 percent in 2010 to 83 percent in the first half of 2015.
  • The cost of health care coverage also became more affordable as fewer people overall reported having trouble paying medical bills within the past year. Low-income people saw the greatest benefit, and all racial and ethnic groups showed a decline in payment problems during this period.
  • Quality of care is improving, particularly in hospitals and for measures that are being publicly reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. However, quality is still far from optimal overall, and disparities based on race/ethnicity and income continues to impact the care people receive.

To view the report and other related materials, go to: http://www.ahrq.gov/workingforquality/reports.htm.

Talking with patients about cognitive problems

Are you a health professional working with older adults? Your patients may be concerned about changes in their memory and thinking skills, and may worry about dementia disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. You can help.

Talking With Your Older Patient: A Clinician’s Handbook has information on cognitive problems to help you:

  • Determine when to screen for cognitive impairment
  • Convey findings about memory problems
  • Communicate with a confused patient