News in Brief: Week of July 4-8

July 06, 2011 05:10 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Free Toolkit Helps Practices Assess Impact of Health IT on Workflow

A new toolkit from the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement will help small and medium-sized medical practices complete workflow analysis and redesign before, during and after the implementation of health information technology, or health IT.

The free resource, titled "Workflow Assessment for Health IT(," was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Toolkit designers claim that the key to successful implementation of health IT is recognition of the technology's impact on clinical and administrative workflow.

FamMedPAC Registers Strong Performance in First Part of 2011

FamMedPAC, the AAFP's political action committee, has raised more than $276,000 in donations so far this year, putting it on course to reach the $1 million mark for the 2011-12 election cycle, said FamMedPAC Director Mark Cribben, J.D.

According to Cribben, FamMedPAC has distributed $211,500 in contributions thus far in 2011, splitting the money almost evenly between Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Reaching the $1 million mark would put FamMedPAC into the "upper echelons of the health care PACs," and allow the AAFP to increase its visibility on Capitol Hill and provide greater support for representatives and senators who support family medicine, said Cribben. "If every AAFP member gave just $100 a year to the PAC, we would have the largest health care PAC in the country," he added.

New AHRQ Ad Campaign Urges Patients to Participate in Their Health Care

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or AHRQ, and the Ad Council have launched a multimedia ad campaign called "Explore Your Treatment Options" that encourages consumers to take a more active role in their health care.

According to a June 30 AHRQ press release(, consumers will be exposed to ads via television, radio, print, the Internet and outdoor advertising that aim to encourage them to seek out information on treatment options with the help of the agency's Effective Health Care Program( website. The ads will urge patients to work with their physicians and other health care providers to make informed health care decisions.

"Information is power in health care, and this campaign will provide patients with the information they need to become partners with their doctors," said AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D., in the release. "We see the best outcomes when doctors and patients work together to come up with a treatment plan that takes into account the patient's quality-of-life concerns."

HHS Announces Grant Money for Partnership for Patients Program

HHS plans to release as much as $500 million in Partnership for Patients funding to help hospitals, physicians, health care provider organizations and others improve care and prevent millions of preventable injuries and complications.

According to HHS(, the program's two goals are to reduce harm in hospital settings by 40 percent and to reduce hospital readmissions by 20 percent during a three-year period. To achieve these goals, the Partnership for Patients will contract with large health care systems, associations, state organizations or other interested individuals to support hospitals in redesigning care processes to reduce harm.

In addition, the program will work with other contractors to develop and share ideas and practices that improve patient safety and work with patients and families to get their input on how to improve patient safety and improve transitions between different health care settings.

Free AHRQ Webinar Features Health IT Research

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's National Resource Center for Health IT will hold a webinar on July 20 from 2-3:30 p.m. EDT that highlights findings gleaned from three reports produced by the agency's Evidence-based Practice Centers.

Moderators for the event and links to the reports they will detail are David Lobach, M.D., Ph.D. M.S., on "Enabling Health Care Decision Making Through the Use of Health Information Technology("; Ann McKibbon, B.Sc., M.L.S., Ph.D., on "Enabling Medication Management Through the Use of Health Information Technology("; and Michael Christopher Gibbons, M.D., M.P.H., on "Impact of Consumer Health Informatics Applications(".

ACCME Focuses on Transparency

Family physicians who would like a clear explanation of the CME accreditation process now can access a new publication from the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, or ACCME.

The publication, The ACCME at Work(, explains the accreditation system and services, including a narrative and data designed to answer frequently asked questions about how the ACCME works. One section, in particular, describes steps the ACCME has taken to increase its transparency and accountability.