1. Dirks, Frances MSN, RN, FNP-BC


The AHRQ compiles successful health care innovations.


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The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) defines innovations as new protocols or programs that enhance a health care organization's patient care. For example, at Kaiser Permanente Anaheim Medical Center in California, medical staff now hold briefings before each surgery to discuss such things as what instruments will be needed, what procedure is to be performed at what body site, and any allergies the patient has. Currently in 96% of Arizona hospitals patients are outfitted in red, yellow, or purple wristbands to indicate whether they have drug allergies, are at risk for falling, or are "do not resuscitate" status. Innovations can be large or small, simple or complicated. And those that work can benefit others. To make them easier to share, the AHRQ has created a new Web resource called the Health Care Innovations Exchange ( It details recent health care innovations that their originators found have improved the delivery of patient care. Each innovation is thoroughly documented in an Innovation Profile.


Each Innovation Profile summarizes the innovation, briefly explains the problem that prompted its development, and details "the innovative activity." The results obtained are given an Evidence Rating, "based on traditional scientific frameworks for evaluating evidence in health care," according to the AHRQ Web site, which will help users determine whether the results of the innovations will transfer to their practices.


When it was launched in April 2008, the site showcased 100 examples of innovations in health care delivery. New strategies on a particular topic are added every two weeks. Although the site is primarily a repository for successful health care innovations, it also describes innovations that failed. AHRQ director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, expects that it "will encourage information sharing, reduce duplication, and save time and money."


On the exchange's home page, a What's New "newsletter" highlights new innovations starting with the most recent update to the site (and links to previous updates). Spotlight, News and Events, Learn and Network, and Meet Our Experts sections alert users to useful resources and upcoming events. The sidebar menu links to these and to the site's other main sections. Here, users can choose to browse the innovations by subject. Current and archived newsletters also link to Innovation Profiles.



QualityTools. Located on the sidebar menu, QualityTools is described as "a compilation of practical tools for assessing, measuring, promoting, and improving the quality of health care" and includes links to suggestions, videos, and assessment tools for quality improvement.


Learn and Network is a conduit to "advice and ideas from experts and practitioners, insights from the literature, as well as opportunities to participate in discussions and learning networks on specific topics." Users can browse resources by topic or link directly to information sources. Guest perspectives and additional articles on innovation are featured here. Topic-specific presentations and discussions are available through Webinars and podcasts. This page also offers access to Learning Networks, which are AHRQ-sponsored forums for communicating with peers and exchanging information on specific topics.


Share Your Innovations encourages users to submit their own efforts to improve health care.


The AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange provides a timely forum for sharing new ideas that have been vetted for quality by the AHRQ. This Web site is easy to navigate and will allow every health care provider to participate in the process of innovation.


Frances Dirks, MSN, RN, FNP-BC


Coordinator of Nursing Resources and a family NP in New York City: