AHRQ Web Site Spotlights 100 Examples of Health Care Innovations

A new Web resource that allows users to learn, share, and adopt innovations in the delivery of health services was launched last week by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The resource--called the Health Care Innovations Exchange--is available at www.innovations.ahrq.gov. Designed as a tool for health care leaders, physicians, nurses, and other health professionals who seek to reduce health care disparities and improve health care overall, the site is the federal government's repository for successful health care innovations, but it also includes useful descriptions of attempts at innovations that failed.

"Sharing information about important new developments in methods of delivering effective health care is typically a hit-or-miss process," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "Such information exchanges often occur only within organizations, through conferences, and by chance over the Internet. AHRQ's updated innovations exchange will encourage information sharing, reduce duplication, and save time and money."

The Web site is being launched with 100 examples of innovations in the delivery of health care services and attempts at innovation; that number will increase as the site is updated every two weeks. Profile examples include an intensive care unit's successful efforts to shorten patient stays by setting and adhering to daily care goals; an initiative by geriatricians, nurse practitioners, and social workers to help seniors avoid institutional care by visiting seniors at home; and a patient/physician e-mail communication system that overcomes the inconvenience of automated phone systems and accommodates the difficult schedules of both the physician and the patient.

In addition to offering a venue for learning and networking, the site offers a new home for AHRQ's QualityTools, a collection of resources used in quality improvement efforts. The agency said it has been calling for the submission of potential health care innovations since 2007 and has included "only truly innovative initiatives" in the exchange site. Innovations must be new or perceived as new to a particular context or setting relative to the usual care processes, and they must have potential for high impact on the delivery of patient care, whether preventive, emergent, chronic, acute, rehabilitative, long-term, or end-of-life, the agency said. In addition, they should be designed to address the need for the reduction of health disparities in populations of interest to AHRQ, which include low income groups, minority groups, women, children, the elderly, and individuals with special health care needs. The site is maintained and operated by WESTAT, a research organization based in Rockville, Md.

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