Carol M. Ashton, MD, MPH, an outstanding health services researcher, excellent mentor, and respected VA leader, is the recipient of the 2004 Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research. This award recognizes a VA researcher whose work has led to major improvements in the quality of veterans' health care, has made significant contributions to the future of HSR&D through excellence in training and mentorship, and has enhanced the visibility and reputation of VA research through national leadership.
Dr. Ashton has devoted her research career to understanding and improving veterans' health and health care services. Her interest in patient-level quality and outcomes has led to myriad groundbreaking work. Both as a researcher and clinician Dr. Ashton is dedicated to improving veterans' quality of care by developing and implementing measures and procedures that improve quality while addressing patients' needs and preferences. Part of this work includes a dissemination program to teach patients how to effectively communicate with their doctors. In 2000, Dr. Ashton was awarded the VA Under Secretary's Innovation Award for her instrumental research on changing preoperative processes, which resulted in improved patient care and significant cost savings.
Dr. Ashton has achieved both national and international recognition as one of the leading experts in the use of administrative databases to identify and pursue important policy issues affecting health care quality. Her work has served as the basis for important investigations into the use of computer databases for quality measurement, evaluation of inpatient complications, utilization forecasting techniques, workload assessment, and an overall conceptual framework for using administrative databases to assess quality. Her impressive body of work - over sixty published peer reviewed articles - have appeared in the nation's most highly regarded journals.
Beginning in 1990, Dr. Ashton was instrumental in creating the research agenda that served as the basis for the VA HSR&D Field Program in Houston, now an HSR&D Center of Excellence. As Director of the Houston Center of Excellence since 1998, she has implemented innovative organizational changes leading the center to continued growth and outstanding achievement.
The numerous prestigious leadership positions she has held reflect her reputation in the fields of research and medicine. These include, Deputy Associate Chief of Staff for Health Services Research and Development at the Houston VA Medical Center, Chief of the Health Services Research Section of the Department of Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics at Baylor College of Medicine, and Research Coordinator for the Chronic Heart Failure QUERI group. Additionally, she was appointed to a five-year term as Co-Editor-in-Chief of Medical Care, the country's leading health services journal.
Dr. Ashton's work has played an immeasurable role in furthering VA's mission of providing the highest quality care to veterans. It is with great honor that VHA presents Dr. Ashton with the prestigious Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research.