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Using Data to Improve Safety and Quality

NORC helps health care providers identify at-risk patients

NORC’s growing capacity for program design, implementation, and other forms of technical assistance in the health care sector—particularly initiatives that leverage the data contained in electronic health records—has drawn the attention of agencies and organizations dedicated to making health care safer and more effective. NORC has been working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop, implement, and evaluate patient safety and quality improvement initiatives in a variety of health care settings.

NORC has partnered with the Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality to implement and assess the AHRQ Safety Program for Improving Antibiotic Use, which aims to help clinicians in hospitals, ambulatory care, and long-term care improve their use of antibiotics. The hope is that, by identifying and disseminating best practices for antibiotic prescriptions, the program will help providers reduce unnecessary antibiotic use and infection rates for C. difficile, a dangerous bowel infection that has become increasingly common in hospital and long-term care facilities.

AHRQ’s Safety Program for Nursing Homes: On-Time Pressure Ulcer Prevention uses electronic health records to identify nursing-home residents at risk of pressure ulcers, or “bed sores.” NORC worked with Stratis Health, a quality improvement organization, and electronic health record vendors to implement the On-Time program in eligible nursing homes nationwide. NORC also worked with the study’s principal investigator at the University of Chicago to assess the impact of the intervention on pressure ulcer rates.

participating nursing homes.

To further AHRQ’s goal of eliminating hospital-acquired conditions, NORC conducted a comprehensive literature review and meta-analysis that included nearly 4,000 publications to estimate the cost and excess mortality associated with each of 10 hospital-acquired conditions. Our results were published in a report that AHRQ and other agencies will use to measure progress on their patient safety initiatives. NORC is also partnering with the Yale School of Medicine to develop and test a program that uses electronic health records to help health care providers more quickly and accurately diagnose and treat community-acquired pneumonia, which is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.