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Alliance Discussion with Dr. Robert Valdez: Transforming Discoveries into Evidence Based Clinical Therapies

In a recent Alliance Member Discussion, Robert Valdez, Ph.D., Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), shared ways AHRQ looks at improving care and how to transform scientific discoveries into evidence-based clinical therapies. Competencies AHRQ uses include health systems research, practice improvement, and data gathering and analytics, which are used to monitor the workings of the health care system and improve decision making for policymakers.

“Our goal is really to improve the lives of our patients by helping them gain better outcomes with the encounters that they have with our health professionals,” said Dr. Valdez. “But more importantly, I’ve tried to put at the center of what we do the patient and the health professional, because what the pandemic has made so clear is that the working experience of the health professional affects the overall quality of the interaction between the patient and the health professional.”

ARHQ’s priorities align with those of the president and the U.S. Health and Human Services, which include:

  • Transforming our healthcare system for the better
  • Dismantling structural racism to achieve equity
  • Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and long COVID
  • Improving maternal health care
  • Expanding access to high-quality, affordable health care
  • Understanding the impact of climate change on health care

When discussing the most important steps to address structural racism using funded research, Dr. Valdez said, “The ACA has actually given ARHQ the authority to focus on primary care research.  [Rebuilding] our healthcare system requires a focus on how we improve primary care across the United States … But the ACA created a center for primary care research here at AHRQ that I think nobody knows about.”

“Fundamentally, it’s about how we do the primary care research that’s necessary at two levels: First, to look at those kinds of common illness burden issues that primary care practitioners see and make them better and provide them with the kinds of knowledge that’s necessary to have the interactions that help lead patients to better health outcomes. And the second is really about how one organizes and delivers primary care. That’s really the system, and we tried to work on both parts of the equation.”

View the full presentation at https://bit.ly/39lg790.