AHRQ Newsletter: employer insurance trends, diagnostic safety summit, opioid abuse

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September 6, 2016, Issue #532

AHRQ Stats: Emergency Care for Children’s Sports Injuries

Children with sports injuries sought treatment in emergency departments (EDs) more than 1.5 million times in 2013. Among boys under age 18, the leading cause was American tackle football (16 percent of all sports injuries in the ED for this age group). For girls in the same age group, the main cause was physical activity associated with school recess and summer camp (13 percent). (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Statistical Brief #207: Sports-Related Emergency Department Visits and Hospital Inpatient Stays, 2013.)


Today's Headlines:


New AHRQ Chartbook Examines Trends in Coverage, Premiums and Benefits

AHRQ‘s newly released Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Insurance Component Chartbook 2015 describes trends in employer-sponsored coverage, premiums and benefits from 2003 to 2015, with easily accessible graphs and maps to facilitate trend comparisons. The data show that from 2014 to 2015, the overall percentage of private-sector employees covered by a health insurance plan offered by their employer remained at about 48 percent, while the number of enrollees increased from 55.8 million in 2014 to 57.3 million in 2015, as overall employment increased. The percentage of employees working at employers that offer insurance (the “offer rate") increased overall from 83.2 percent in 2014 to 83.8 percent in 2015. The offer rate at firms with 100 or more employees increased from 97.3 percent to 98.8 percent during 2014-2015, while offer rates at firms with fewer than 50 employees declined from 49.8 percent to 47.6 percent. Meanwhile, relatively slow growth in premiums continued from 2014 to 2015, with premium increases ranging from 2.2 percent for employee-only coverage to 4.0 percent for family coverage. The MEPS-Insurance Component is a nationally representative annual survey of private employers and state and local governments. Access the chartbook.


Register Now: Sept. 28 AHRQ Research Summit on Diagnostic Safety

Join AHRQ experts and industry leaders at a Sept. 28 AHRQ research summit to discuss the state of the science on diagnostic safety and strategies to improve diagnosis in health care. AHRQ Research Summit: Improving Diagnosis in Health Care will build on the 2015 National Academy of Medicine report and will discuss diagnostic safety issues related to using data and measurement, health information technology and organizational factors. Access the agenda and register to attend via webcast or in person at AHRQ in Rockville, Maryland. Pre-registration is required, and in-person registration is limited. Also access a new AHRQ Views blog post from AHRQ Director Andy Bindman, M.D., about challenges and strategies to improve diagnostic safety.


U.S. Surgeon General, AHRQ Support Efforts To Reduce Opioid Abuse

To address prescription opioid abuse, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A, launched the “Turn the Tide” initiative and sent a letter to more than 2.3 million health care practitioners and public health leaders asking for their help in addressing opioid addiction. To augment efforts to reduce opioid abuse, AHRQ recently announced a series of grants to research how to support rural primary care practices in delivering medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people addicted to opioids, as well as how to overcome barriers to MAT in rural communities. AHRQ is investing approximately $9 million over three years to help rural primary care practices provide access to treatment to more than 20,000 people with opioid addiction. AHRQ’s initiative supports practices through the use of in-person practice facilitation as well as technologies, including patient-controlled smart phone apps, remote training and use of Project ECHO, a program that links primary care clinicians in rural communities with specialist care teams at university medical centers. Visit AHRQ’s National Center for Excellence in Primary Care Research to learn more.


AHRQ Study on Pediatric Quality Reports: Physicians Believe They Are Effective, But Most Don’t Use Them

Only 33 percent of pediatricians and family physicians said they have used quality reports to support quality improvement efforts even though most receive the reports and believe they are effective, an AHRQ study found. Researchers surveyed 727 North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania physicians who provide primary care to publicly insured children to determine when quality measurement and reporting were most effective and for whom. The survey included questions about receipt of pediatric quality reports, use of reports for quality improvement and beliefs about the reports' effectiveness. Almost 80 percent of those surveyed received quality reports related to pediatric care, but physicians said limited staff time or training in quality improvement were among significant barriers to using such reports. The study, “Primary Care Physicians’ Experiences With and Attitudes Toward Pediatric Quality Reporting,” was published online July 21 in Academic Pediatrics. Access the abstract.


Register Now: Sept. 16 Webinar on Using Public Reporting To Select Nursing Home, Maternity Care

Join AHRQ, the American Hospital Association and Health Services Research (HSR) for a webinar on Sept. 16 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET that explores the "shoppable" nature of finding a nursing home and maternity care through the use of effective public reporting. In June, HSR published a special issue sponsored by AHRQ on improving the science and practice of public reporting of health care quality. During this upcoming webinar, “Achieving the Promise of Public Reporting,” participants will learn about:

  • The advancement of public reporting research in recent years
  • How report producers can maximize their reports’ usefulness and impact
  • How a star-based summary rating system can influence nursing home report use
  • Factors affecting the use of public reports for hospital maternity care, and major differences between what consumers want versus what information is available to them

Register now for the webinar. Presenters include Laurence Baker, Ph.D., Stanford School of Medicine; Brent Sandmeyer, M.P.H., AHRQ; Rachel Werner, M.D., Ph.D., Penn Medicine; and Maureen Maurer, M.P.H., American Institutes for Research.


Featured Case Study: AHRQ Health Literacy Toolkit Supports Better Health Communication in Tasmania

The Australian state of Tasmania’s Department of Health and Human Services used elements of AHRQ’s Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit to help nearly 20,000 providers and 4,000 community service workers learn and implement health literacy strategies. Helping patients understand health information is a priority for policymakers and service providers in Tasmania, an island south of mainland Australia. Access the case study.


AHRQ in the Professional Literature


Effect of Medicare's nonpayment for hospital-acquired conditions: lessons for future policy. Waters TM, Daniels MJ, Bazzoli GJ, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Mar;175(3):347-54. Access the abstract in PubMed®.

Consensus recommendations for systematic evaluation of drug-drug interaction evidence for clinical decision support. Scheife RT, Hines LE, Boyce RD, et al. Drug Saf. 2015 Feb;38(2):197-206. Access the abstract in PubMed®.

National assessment of early beta-blocker therapy in patients with acute myocardial infarction in China, 2001-2011: The China Patient-centered Evaluative Assessment of Cardiac Events (PEACE)-Retrospective AMI study. Zhang H, Masoudi FA, Li J, et al. Am Heart J 2015 Sep;170(3):506-15.e1. Epub 2015 May 22. Access the abstract in PubMed®.

Variations in Asian Americans: how neighborhood concordance is associated with health care access and utilization. Chang E, Chan KS. Am J Public Health. 2015 Jan;105(1):66-68. Access the abstract in PubMed®.

Effectiveness and implications of alternative placebo treatments: a systematic review and network meta-analysis of osteoarthritis trials. Bannuru RR, McAlindon TE, Sullivan MC, et al. Ann Intern Med 2015 Sep 1;163(5):365-72. Access the abstract in PubMed®.

Prevalence of total hip and knee replacement in the United States. Maradit Kremers H, Larson DR, Crowson CS, et al. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2015 Sep 2;97(17):1386-97. Access the abstract in PubMed®.

On the outskirts of national health reform: a comparative assessment of health insurance and access to care in Puerto Rico and the United States. Portela M, Sommers BD. Milbank Q. 2015 Sep;93(3):584-608. Access the abstract in PubMed®.

Half of 30-day hospital readmissions among HIV-infected patients are potentially preventable. Nijhawan AE, Kitchell E, Etherton SS, et al. AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2015 Sep;29(9):465-73. Epub 2015 Jul 8. Access the abstract in PubMed®.


Contact Information

Please address comments and questions about the AHRQ Electronic Newsletter to Bruce Seeman at: (301) 427-1998 or Bruce.Seeman@ahrq.hhs.gov.