SAN ANTONIO (June 6, 2008) — A new national Web resource designed to promote innovation in the delivery of health care was launched this spring by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Faculty from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio assisted in the development of the new Web site.
“The purpose of the Web resource is to be a central location for the health care community to find innovative processes and procedures that work, in order to improve the quality of care and reduce health care disparities,” said Kathleen Stevens, R.N., M.S., Ed.D., FAAN, professor in the Department of Family Nursing Care and a member of the Web resource’s editorial board.
Dr. Stevens also is director of the UT Health Science Center’s Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice (ACE), a university center of excellence with the goal of moving research into practice. ACE received a $900,000 subcontract to help implement the Web site.
ACE’s Summer Institute for Evidence-Based Practice, June 26-28 in San Antonio, will be one of the first places the Web resource will be introduced and demonstrated to health care providers. Nix and Dr. Nieva will deliver “Innovation at the Point of Care – The New AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange” at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 26, at the Crowne Plaza Riverwalk Hotel. The presentation will be given by AHRQ Project Officer Mary Nix and Dr. Veronica Nieva, project director at Westat, a research services company hired to implement the Web site.
The new resource, AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange, is designed to:
• Facilitate networking among physicians, nurses and other health care professionals
• Encourage institutions to become involved in the innovation process
• Stimulate health care leaders and institutions to adopt the successful innovations of others
The online resource also houses the agency’s QualityTools initiative, which pulls together hundreds of publicly available tools useful for understanding, evaluating and improving the quality of care.
“The public and private sector have always invested a great deal of money and time in spreading clinical innovations, such as new pharmaceuticals and technologies,” explained Dr. Nieva. “This project represents a much-needed effort to put the same kind of energy and attention into innovations in the delivery of health care, which traditionally does not get the same kind of attention, but affects all of us.”
The Web site was launched this spring with searchable descriptions of 100 innovations — mostly successful ones, as well as some that were not found to be effective. “We would like for those who visit this Web resource to share comments about their experiences with these and similar innovations,” Nix said. “By making this kind of information widely available, we hope that health care organizations will learn from each other, try new innovations and build on each other’s successes.”
In her role as one of six individuals on the project’s editorial board, Dr. Stevens helps evaluate and select innovations to be featured on the Web site. The UT Health Science Center’s Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice, supported by the AHRQ subcontract, works with innovators to write case studies about their innovations for the Web site. This is an ongoing project, with new case studies posted every two weeks.
“Westat invited ACE to assist with writing the case studies,” Dr. Stevens said. “We are the only university-based subcontractors in this project. That’s because the work that we do exactly matches what they wanted to do with this resource. We’ve also received four conference grants from the agency since the center was established in 2000 to support our Summer Institutes on Evidence-Based Practice, so we are well-known by this group.”
Paula Cooper Clutter, Ph.D., R.N., CNS-BC, assistant clinical professor in the UT Health Science Center’s Department of Acute Nursing Care, is assisting with the project through ACE as her post-doctoral fellowship.
Robert Ferrer, M.D., M.P.H., is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and director of research at the UT Health Science Center. He is one of 13 health care leaders who serve on the expert panel for the Web site. “I am part of a diverse group that gives feedback on the Web site,” he said.
“There are lots of sources of information out there for health providers, but what’s different about this Web site is that it gives the background on how something was developed that you won’t find in a journal, such as what worked and what didn’t work along the way,” Dr. Ferrer said. “The innovators have also agreed to be available to discuss what they did to help others adapt it at their institution.”
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is the leading research institution in South Texas and one of the major health sciences universities in the world. With an operating budget of $576 million, the Health Science Center is the chief catalyst for the $15.3 billion biosciences and health care sector in San Antonio’s economy. The Health Science Center has had an estimated $35 billion impact on the region since inception and has expanded to six campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. More than 23,000 graduates (physicians, dentists, nurses, scientists and allied health professionals) serve in their fields, including many in Texas. Health Science Center faculty are international leaders in cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, stroke prevention, kidney disease, orthopaedics, research imaging, transplant surgery, psychiatry and clinical neurosciences, pain management, genetics, nursing, allied health, dentistry and many other fields. For more information, visit www.uthscsa.edu.