(Story updated at 3:40 p.m. ET.)
Dr. Carolyn Clancy, who has led HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for nearly a decade, will leave her post sometime “in the coming months,” according to a memo to employees from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Clancy, an internist, was named AHRQ's director in February 2003 and was reappointed in October 2009. She joined AHRQ in 1990 and previously served as director of its Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research.
In the statement, Sebelius praised Clancy for raising AHRQ's visibility and spearheading initiatives focused on healthcare disparities and patient safety. During Clancy's tenure, Sebelius said, AHRQ began producing its national reports on the state of healthcare quality and disparities. The companion reports have been released annually since 2003.
Sebelius also mentioned AHRQ's funding of the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program, a multipronged quality-improvement protocol first used to target central line-associated bloodstream infections.
“She has led the agency to empower patients to plan an active role in their healthcare, such as through creating tools that assess patients' perspectives on their care, now an essential part of value-based purchasing for hospitals,” Sebelius said, referring to the CMS' performance incentive program for hospitals.
The announcement drew quick responses from several healthcare groups. In a statement, Academy Health, a Washington-based health research and policy organization, called Clancy “a tireless advocate for the use of evidence in policymaking” and “a key voice on the importance of building the data infrastructure to build (health services research).”
Mary Woolley, CEO of Research!America, an Alexandria, Va.-based not-for-profit focused on health research, called Clancy “a stalwart champion of medical and health services research.”
“Hers is an important and lasting legacy,” Woolley said in an e-mailed statement.
Clancy serves on numerous boards and national committees, including as a member of Institute of Medicine. She was No. 12 on Modern Healthcare's list of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare in 2012, making her 10th appearance on the annual list.
She will continue to serve as head of AHRQ while a search is conducted for her successor, according to the memo.