HospitalConnect web site gets a redesign

The Chicago-based American Hospital Association (AHA) has formally unveiled HospitalConnect, a web portal uniting 50 Internet sites from 22 organizations that serve health care providers. The prototype for HospitalConnect went live for fine-tuning and adjusting in July 2002. It was then redesigned to better serve a diverse audience and enable health leaders to better share ideas and innovations.

For example, the site now features an interactive hospital finder that enables users to find the closest hospitals to any address in the United States, and provides customizable headlines and a powerful search engine. The redesigned front page includes guides to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, disaster readiness, and other key issues. The portal contains information on best practices, research, educational materials, news, and products. The redesigned site can be found at

AHRQ sponsors bioterror audio conferences

The Washington, DC-based Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in Rockville, MD, is sponsoring a series of five free web-assisted audio conferences for state, local, and health system policy-makers. The goal of the audio conferences is to provide these officials with information about:

  • federal efforts to ensure the rapid development of federal, state, and local capacity to address potential bioterrorism events;
  • promising practices and strategies being developed and implemented at the state, local, and health system level to promote health system readiness;
  • available methods and tools, developed through federally supported health services research efforts, that can be of assistance in developing systems capacity and enhancing readiness.

The conferences will be coordinated by AHRQ’s User Liaison Program (ULP). The first conference, which was held Feb. 18, 2003, dealt with issues, strategies, and tools for addressing the smallpox threat. The remaining four programs include:

  • Event 2: Disaster Planning Drills and Assessing Readiness. Tuesday, April 15, 2003, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., ET.
  • Event 3: Surge Capacity Assessments and Regionalization Issues. Tuesday, June 17, 2003, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., ET.
  • Event 4: Topic to be determined. Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2003, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., ET.
  • Event 5: Topic to be determined. Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2003, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., ET.

HHS names new AHRQ director

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced that Carolyn Clancy, MD, has been appointed director of the department’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in Rockville, MD. The agency is responsible for supporting research designed to improve the quality of health care, reduce its costs, improve patient safety, and detect medical errors.

Clancy has served as acting director of AHRQ since March 2002 and will oversee the development of research that provides evidence-based information on various health care outcomes.

Leapfrog Group to help hospitals with investments

A member of the steering committee of The Leapfrog Group, a Washington, DC-based patient safety organization, said the committee is developing plans to help hospitals recoup some of the money they invest in changes to meet Leapfrog recommendations.

Francois de Brantes, program leader for health care initiatives at GE Corporate Health Care, said the employer group recognizes that the cost of implementing Leapfrog recommendations can exceed what hospitals get from payers as a result of making those changes.

"Shame on us purchasers, and shame on this country, to have created a system where better quality costs hospitals money," said de Brantes, speaking in San Diego to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Leapfrog has designed incentives to urge hospitals to implement computerized physician order entry systems and employ intensivists and evidence-based hospital referrals.

De Brantes said Leapfrog is developing a procedure to examine the cost of fulfilling these recommendations, forecast their fiscal impact, and help cover the difference, usually through direct payments by Leapfrog members or by telling insurers to redirect premium payments to the hospitals.