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New AHRQ Resource Helps Patients Find Information on Their Diseases

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Press Release Date: March 22, 2000

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) today announced release of a new resource that helps patients find and use reliable health care information to evaluate treatment options. Now You Have a Diagnosis: What's Next? is part of AHRQ's broader agenda to promote health care quality and improve health care decisionmaking with research and evidence. This resource was developed in partnership with the Kanter Family Foundation.

Receiving a diagnosis can often be confusing and overwhelming, especially when one faces a serious medical condition. In many cases, no one "right" treatment exists. To ensure the best possible medical care and to avoid unnecessary, costly, or even harmful treatments, patients need to evaluate their treatment options before deciding which course to follow. With this in mind, AHRQ and The Kanter Family Foundation decided to help patients feel comfortable with, and understand how to find information that might be available about their particular illness or condition through the Internet, counselors, and advocacy groups.

"An informed patient is critical to a high quality health care system," said AHRQ Director John M. Eisenberg, M.D. "Providing information that patients and their families can use to make more informed decisions underscores AHRQ's commitment to promoting patient use of evidence-based medicine. Patients can be partners in making medical decisions, but only if they have the information they need to be informed decisionmakers."

The resource encourages patients to work with their doctors in developing a treatment plan and to seek support from others sharing the same health concerns. It also explains the four main types of research studies, how to find reliable health-related information, how to use that information in making a decision and how to discuss treatment choices with a physician.

"This new guide and the accompanying online resource are the first steps towards realizing our Foundation's vision of a nationwide outcomes database that helps patients put research to work for their health care," said Joseph H. Kanter, President and CEO, Kanter Family Foundation. "We see this information as a critical link to promoting shared decisionmaking between patients and clinicians."

Together, AHRQ and the Foundation are working to improve health care decisionmaking by providing patients with information based on scientific research; supporting development of a national outcomes database to be used by doctors and patients in determining which treatments work best for specific diseases and conditions; and encouraging the standardization of health outcomes data throughout the health care system. These activities are consistent with AHRQ's mission as the lead Federal agency on quality of care issues.

Individuals may order free copies of Now You Have a Diagnosis: What's Next? (AHRQ Publication No. AHRQ 00-0004) from the AHRQ Publication Clearinghouse by calling 800-358-9295 or writing: AHRQ Publication Clearinghouse, P.O. Box 8547, Silver Spring, MD 20907. Contact the Clearinghouse for information about bulk orders. To access the online version, select http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/diaginfo.htm.

For additional information, contact AHRQ Public Affairs, (301) 427-1364.

The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.

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