The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which was previously known as the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research is among the twelve agencies operating within the US Department of Health and Human Services. AHRQ was primarily bestowed with the responsibility of producing guidelines, but this responsibility became a controversy when the agency proceeded to produce an array of guidelines that would eventually diminish lucrative therapeutic drugs and measures. This was attributed by a range of concerns including those raised by ophthalmologists over a cataract guideline as well as concerns raised by the pharmaceutical industry relating to the decline in the adoption of high margin drugs (Hanley et al, 2007). A guideline stating that back pain surgery was bound to perpetuate potential harm was produced by this agency, and this led to the lobbying of a campaign that perpetuated changing of the agency’s name while tearing down the guidelines program. Today, AHRQ is tasked with the role of providing educational as well as career development grants and healthcare research. It also supports the development of research infrastructures that are related to healthcare services and emerging works of excellence that seek to develop innovative educational models (AHRQ, 2012).
Respiratory therapist program funded by AHRQ
Respiratory therapist is among the various programs that have been funded by AHRQ as Respiratory Therapy students particularly those entering their second year of training are usually engaged in AHRQ’s Training Program for Respiratory Medical Emergencies. The core mission for this program is to make healthcare a safer, accessible, of good quality and affordable by training healthcare practitioners that are not specialists in respiratory care so as to equip them with skills and capacity to provide essential respiratory and ventilator care to adult patients as well as other category of individuals being served in any mass-casualty incidents. Although the program primarily includes training healthcare practitioners to become respiratory therapists, it equally seeks to extend the respiratory care capacity into the arena of public health emergency (Hanley et al, 2007). The budget for this program includes $50 million for conducting inquiry on comparative effectiveness. These funds will particularly be used to perpetuate an effective respiratory care program as sanctioned in section 1013 of the 2003 Act of Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization. The budget will thus support varying federal efforts intended to perpetuate alternative respiratory treatments that would help patients and healthcare providers to choose the most appropriate alternative (Hanley & Bogdan, 2008).
The strategic plan that will be adopted in the respiratory therapists program will primarily include a plan that can surge reliable capacity that can manage mass-casualty incidents. This would include responding to rapidly increasing volumes of patients that may require mechanical ventilation. The basic plan adopted in this program would thus include establishment of contingencies that can perpetuate surging capacity related to ventilator inventories as well as the respiratory therapy practitioners that can manage the ventilators (Hanley & Bogdan, 2008). In order to control the quality of health care, managers of the respiratory therapy program always ensure that pilot testing program is undertaken to ensure that the program is effective. They equally undertake validation laboratory tests to ensure that medical procedures that are bound to be followed are competent. They equally recruit local medical practitioners that may be serving in non-clinical as well as non-hospital-based positions so as to improve the respiratory therapy services, eliminate elective surgeries and avoid postponing appointments (Hanley et al, 2007).
In order to enhance cost containment, the managers engaging in this program seek to recruit the local practitioners that do not necessarily have to be therapy specialists to ensure that a surging capacity is created to enhance effective management of mass-casualty incidents. They equally seek to lower the demand for the respiratory therapy offered in mass-casualty incidents by transferring patients to other institutions while on the other hand augmenting staffing levels. Argumentation is usually done through mobilizing local volunteers as well as deployable teams while on the other hand exploiting local resources (Hanley & Bogdan, 2008). AHRQ’s respiratory therapist program is properly aligned with health care professionals as it has devised efforts that could be relied upon particularly during emergencies. On this note, managers for this program have liaised with registries of healthcare professionals that are willing to volunteer their efforts in times of emergencies. The program for example liaises with the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals that was sanctioned by the congress in 2002 (Hanley et al, 2007).
The program has equally liaised with the Medical Reserve Corps where public health professionals that are always willing to volunteer their efforts at any time of the year when there are special community activities can be drawn. The respiratory therapy program is a reliable program that enhances quality, access, and affordability of respiratory healthcare. This is particularly because the program enhances provision of respiratory therapy for adults prevailing in mass-casualty incidents and it allows patients to choose from an array of available options. Relying on volunteers from various registries however pose challenges especially when mass-casualty emergencies occur in areas that cannot be easily accessed. The program can thus improve the local resources to address this challenge (AHRQ, 2012).
AHRQ has funded a wide range of programs that seek to improve the quality of healthcare, increase accessibility and affordability among the US citizens. Respiratory therapist is among the programs that have been funded by this agency, and this seeks to improve healthcare capacity among individuals that may necessarily be respiratory therapy specialists, but who can help to address situations emanating from mass-casualty incidents. Managers for this program mainly seek to exploit local resources while on the other hand liaising with healthcare professionals to improve quality of healthcare.
AHRQ (2012). National Healthcare Quality Report,
Hanley, M. et al. (2007). Project XTREME: Model for Health Professionals’ Cross-Training for Mass Casualty Respiratory Needs,
Hanley, M.E. and Bogdan, G.M. (2008). Mechanical Ventilation in Mass Casualty Scenarios: Augmenting Staff, Project XTREME, Journal of Respiratory Care, 53(2):176-188.