AHRQ News Now: health IT could help seniors in emergencies; county-level stats on opioid hospitalizations; new patient safety research

AHRQ News Now

March 27, 2018, Issue #608

AHRQ Stats: Household Expenses for Health Care

Among families with no elderly members, out-of-pocket expenses for health care averaged $451 in 2015. These expenses increased with family income, however. (Source: AHRQ, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Statistical Brief #507: Out-of-Pocket Health Care Expenses for Non-Elderly Families by Income and Family Structure, 2015.)

Today's Headlines:

Revisions to Health Information Technology Designs Could Help Seniors Prepare for Health Emergencies

Health information technology should be designed to include information about emergency contacts, diagnoses and advance directives so older adults are better prepared for health emergencies, an AHRQ-funded study concluded. Such information could help caregivers, first responders and next of kin in emergency circumstances, according to the article in the International Journal of Medical Informatics. Researchers interviewed 90 older adults about how they manage information about their health. The study found that emergency information was often not up to date and not always kept in a readily apparent location. Access the study abstract.

New AHRQ Views Blog Post: Digging Into County-Level Hospital Statistics To Understand the Impact of Opioids


AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna, M.B.A., highlights AHRQ’s new county-level statistics on hospitalizations related to substance use in an AHRQ Views blog post. The new Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) resource provides 2014 statistics for hospital discharges and stays related to the use of opioids, alcohol, stimulants and other drugs. The statistics, drawn from more than 1,600 counties and two cities in 32 states, illustrate how the impacts of substance misuse vary widely among communities. With this new resource, public health officials, clinicians, first responders, researchers and others have a valuable tool to help define and tackle local health challenges. Access the blog post to learn more about AHRQ’s HCUP county-level statistics and other AHRQ data resources.

Hospitals That Improved Profits Benefited More From Increased Revenues Than Cost Reductions, AHRQ Study Concludes

Increased revenues had a greater impact than decreased costs among hospitals that became more profitable between 2003 and 2013, according to an AHRQ study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. In a study of 2,400 hospitals in eight states, researchers concluded that more profitable hospitals increased per-bed revenues by an average $113,000 per year. The same group of hospitals, meanwhile, reduced per-bed costs by about $10,000 per year. Revenue increases were driven largely by higher non-Medicare insurance payments, the researchers found. This research was funded by AHRQ’s Comparative Health System Performance Initiative, which studies how health care delivery systems promote evidence-based practices and patient-centered outcomes research in delivering care. Access the abstract.

Highlights From AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network

AHRQ’s Patient Safety Network (PSNet) highlights journal articles, books and tools related to patient safety. Articles featured this week include:

Review additional new publications in PSNet’s current issue or access recent cases and commentaries in AHRQ’s WebM&M (Morbidity and Mortality Rounds on the Web).

Free Continuing Education Credits Available for TeamSTEPPS Course on Office-Based Care

Register now for AHRQ’s free TeamSTEPPS® for Office-Based Care online course, which focuses on enhancing communication and teamwork skills among office-based professionals to improve patient safety and quality. Participants may begin pre-course work now and will earn free continuing education credits for each activity completed. Master Trainer certificates will be awarded for completing all course requirements. TeamSTEPPS for Office-Based Care is among AHRQ’s quality improvement initiatives that provide credit to health care professionals under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System. It is intended for individuals who play a key role in leading and assisting office-based practices with quality improvement and practice transformation efforts.

Featured Case Study: TeamSTEPPS Improves Outcomes for Mothers and Newborns

Kaiser Permanente perinatal teams in Northern California have improved outcomes for mothers and newborns by using TeamSTEPPS® strategies. Improved outcomes included a 15 percent reduction in labor-inducing drugs, without increasing cesarean-section rates. TeamSTEPPS strategies such as debriefs, huddles, and the situation, background, assessment and recommendation (SBAR) technique are commonly used at 17 facilities. Access the impact case study.

AHRQ in the Professional Literature

Budgetary impact of compliance with STI screening guidelines in persons living with HIV. Eaton EF, Hudak K, Muzny CA. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2017 Mar 1;74(3):303-8. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Readmission after ileostomy creation: retrospective review of a common and significant event. Fish DR, Mancuso CA, Garcia-Aguilar JE, et al. Ann Surg. 2017 Feb;265(2):379-87. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

An entertainment-education colorectal cancer screening decision aid for African American patients: a randomized controlled trial. Hoffman AS, Lowenstein LM, Kamath GR, et al. Cancer. 2017 Apr 15;123(8):1401-8. Epub 2016 Dec 21. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Variation in readmission expenditures after high-risk surgery. Jacobs BL, He C, Li BY, et al. J Surg Res. 2017 Jun 1;213:60-8. Epub 2017 Feb 23. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Use of telemedicine to enhance pharmacist services in the nursing facility. Kane-Gill SL, Niznik JD, Kellum JA, et al. Consult Pharm. 2017 Feb 1;32(2):93-8.  Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Integrating: a managerial practice that enables implementation in fragmented health care environments. Kerrissey M, Satterstrom P, Leydon N, et al. Health Care Manage Rev. 2017 Jul/Sep;42(3):213-25. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Costs of care for hospitalized children associated with preferred language and insurance type. Lion KC, Wright DR, Desai AD, et al. Hosp Pediatr. 2017 Feb;7(2):70-8. Epub 2017 Jan 10. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Sample size calculations for time-averaged difference of longitudinal binary outcomes. Lou Y, Cao J, Zhang S, et al. Commun Stat Theory Methods. 2017;46(1):344-53. Epub 2016 Feb 18. Access the abstract on PubMed®.

Contact Information

For questions or comments about AHRQ News Now, contact Bruce Seeman, (301) 427-1998, or Bruce.Seeman@ahrq.hhs.gov.