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AHRQ launches new Effective Health Care Program to compare medical treatments and help put proven treatments into practice

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has launched a new Effective Health Care Program to help clinicians and patients determine which drugs and other medical treatments work best for certain health conditions. Authorized under Section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, the $15 million program will support the development of new scientific information through research on the outcomes of health care services and therapies, including drugs. By reviewing and synthesizing published and unpublished scientific studies, as well as identifying important issues where existing evidence is insufficient, the program will help provide clinicians and patients with better information for making treatment decisions. A hallmark of the program will be the transparency of the data and processes used to arrive at findings. Initial reports from the new program will be issued this fall, with particular focus on effectiveness information relevant to Medicare beneficiaries.

The new program includes three components:

  1. Comparative Effectiveness Reviews—The program builds on an existing network of 13 Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs). In the new program, the EPCs will focus especially on comparing the relative effectiveness of different treatments, including drugs, as well as identifying gaps in knowledge where new research is needed.
  2. Network of Research Centers—A new network of Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions about Effectiveness research centers (referred to as DEcIDE) will carry out accelerated studies, including research aimed at filling knowledge gaps about treatment effectiveness. Operating under strict procedures to guarantee privacy and security, the 13 DEcIDE centers will use de-identified data available through insurers, health plans, and other partner organizations to answer questions about the use, benefits, and risks of medications and other therapies.
  3. Making Findings Clear for Different Audiences—A new Clinical Decisions and Communications Science Center (to be called the Eisenberg Center in honor of the late AHRQ director, John M. Eisenberg, M.D.) is aimed at improving communication of findings to a variety of audiences, including consumers, clinicians, payers, and health care policy makers. The center will translate findings in ways appropriate for the needs of the different stakeholders. It also will conduct its own program of research into effective communication of research findings, in order to improve usability and rapid incorporation of findings into medical practice.

More information on the Effective Health Care Program can be found on the Web site

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