AHRQ Director Richard Kronick, Ph.D., announced Feb. 24 that he will leave the agency and return to the University of California, San Diego. His last day at AHRQ will be March 18. AHRQ Deputy Director Sharon Arnold, Ph.D., will serve as the agency’s acting director. In an email to HHS employees, Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said Dr. Kronick “worked tirelessly to provide insight and information critical to improving the health of the nation.” In his time at AHRQ, Dr. Kronick focused the Agency on pursuing AHRQ’s mission through three core activities: producing research and evidence to improve the performance of the health care system; producing tools and training materials to make sure that evidence is understood and used; and investing in data and measures used by providers, patients and policymakers. “The results of this work are evidenced in the remarkable progress we have made on improving safety in hospital care,” Dr. Burwell said. “As a result of AHRQ’s work, in collaboration with colleagues at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, other parts of HHS and the private sector, hospital care was 17 percent safer in 2014 than in 2010, resulting in87,000 fewer deaths, 2.1 million fewer harms to patients and almost $20 billion in cost savings.” Under Dr. Kronick’s leadership, AHRQ also launched EvidenceNOW and grants on comparative health systems performance. Dr. Kronick’s departure from AHRQ concludes a six-year career at HHS. He joined the Department in January 2010 as deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, overseeing the Office of Health Policy, building the capacity of that office to produce high-quality analyses.
Blog posts from AHRQ leaders
Leaving AHRQ With Pride in its Successful Efforts to Improve American Health Care
After two and one-half stimulating, exciting, and fun years at AHRQ, I will soon be leaving the Agency to return to the University of California, San Diego.
I am sad to leave, but very proud of what we have accomplished together, and grateful for AHRQ staff’s dedication and commitment to the Agency and to improving the quality, safety, affordability, accessibility, and equitability of health care. As I reflect on AHRQ’s many accomplishments over the past couple of years, I am especially impressed by our work to improve hospital safety, which has resulted in 87,000 lives saved over the past 4 years and our work in launching EvidenceNOW and the grants on comparative health systems performance. As with all research and dissemination and implementation efforts, the proof is in the pudding, but I’m quite optimistic.
Other work that stands out is AHRQ’s contributions to wider Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) efforts on delivery system reform, combatting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and battling the opioid epidemic; helping the the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force navigate the complexities of the breast cancer screening recommendation; improvements to the timeliness, scope, and accessibility of the HCUP (Health Care Cost and Utilization Project) data (including the launch of Fast Stats); enhancements to the Quality Indicators; improvements in the completeness of MEPS (Medical Expenditure Panel Survey) data; and a large bolus of high-impact intramural research from staff throughout the Agency.
We have collectively focused AHRQ’s work on our three core activities: producing research and evidence to improve the functioning of the health care system; producing tools and training materials to make sure that the evidence is understood and used; and investing in data and measures used by providers, patients, and policy-makers.
I have been inspired by the way AHRQ has worked together facing all the opportunities and challenges that have come our way. I have greatly enjoyed my tenure at AHRQ, and look forward every day to coming to work. I have learned a tremendous amount, and thank everyone for their generosity in welcoming me to the Agency and making the lasttwo and one-half years so successful.
My sadness at leaving AHRQ is tempered only by the knowledge that AHRQ’s leadership is in good hands. I am delighted that HHS Secretary Burwell has asked Dr. Sharon Arnold, Deputy Director of AHRQ, to serve as Acting Director, and grateful that Sharon has agreed to do so. I know that Sharon’s excellent judgment, good humor, and strong managerial skills will serve AHRQ in good stead.
Page last reviewed February 2016