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Aurora Health Care one of few organizations selected to help shape future of U.S. health care

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Aurora only Wisconsin health system part of federal health care research and quality contract

MILWAUKEE, WI, Aurora Health Care is one of 15 groups nationwide chosen by the U.S. government to participate in research that will help shape health care practices for years to come.

Aurora is the only health system in Wisconsin selected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to participate in its ACTION initiative.

The focus of the Aurora-led research is to identify best practices and apply them to patient care much sooner than traditional research processes. Historically, it can take up to a decade for research findings to be adopted into community health care practice. This new approach enables the application to occur within a couple of years.

“Aurora Health Care’s national reputation for quality, innovation and patient safety, and its ability to quickly bring proven research to the bedside led to its selection,” said AHRQ project director Cynthia Palmer. “Its variety of patient settings and populations across eastern Wisconsin also were key factors.”

Nick Turkal, M.D., Aurora senior vice president and president of Aurora’s metro region, said: “We’re eager to be at the forefront in shaping patient care in the future, in ways that can address costs and increase effectiveness. This project has the potential for long-range impact on how care is delivered. It’s a natural extension of our focus on continually finding better ways.

“The research will help to create new models to improve patient care through a customized approach that introduces the newest, best care quickly and efficiently – in the clinic, the hospital, at home, the pharmacy and at the bedside,” Turkal said.

Patrick Falvey, Ph.D., Aurora vice president of care management and clinical research administration, said Aurora’s integrated system and past experience makes it a contender to take on any number of projects AHRQ may propose, including emergency preparedness.

“This year we helped immunize well over 100,000 people for influenza in Wisconsin through Aurora Visiting Nurse Association of Wisconsin clinics, Aurora Quick Care sites and physician offices. That type of infrastructure puts us in a position to bid for a project related to the need have mass vaccinations, such as the avian flu,” Falvey said. “A key role for the research teams will be taking what we already have learned and using it in new ways and new settings for the best results.”

Joining Aurora Health Care in its work will be local and national partners. “We are fortunate to have partners who are experts in research, health care education and task management working with us to devise research that will save lives, improve quality of life and prevent hospitalizations,” Turkal said.

Aurora’s local partners are:

  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health-Milwaukee Clinical Campus
  • Center for Urban Population Health, Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health-Population Health Institute
  • University of Wisconsin Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • University of Wisconsin School of Nursing
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing

Its national partners are:

  • Danya International Inc., Silver Spring, M.D., a health and human services consulting firm that specializes in using science and technology to support health research and manage task order processes.
  • Urban Institute, Washington, D.C., a non-profit policy research organization with more than 400 researchers who measure the extent of social problems, assess solutions to those problems, and offer assistance in developing strategies related to health care, social services and more.

Under the contract, AHRQ will submit specific tasks for participants to bid on, with tasks to be completed in 12 to 18 months. However, collaborators may submit proposals of their own for consideration by AHRQ. Key areas of interest for Aurora’s group are quality of patient care, health information technology, nursing practice, payment and reimbursement policy effects, health disparities, behavioral health and technologies for diffusing innovations rapidly from research into practice.

Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.

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