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Case studies show how findings from AHRQ-supported research are being used by the Federal Government

In the January 2002 issue of Research Activities, we invited you, the researcher, to send us information on how your AHRQ-supported research is being used, and we explained how AHRQ draws on that information to produce Impact Case Studies. In August, we presented the first in a series of articles that showcase specific case studies, starting with examples of how State governments use AHRQ-supported research. In this issue, we present some examples of AHRQ research findings being used by other agencies of the Federal Government.

For example, since 2000, the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis has been using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Insurance Component (MEPS-IC) to calculate its estimate of the Gross Domestic Product. Additionally, the Commerce Department used the MEPS-IC in its revisions of GDP estimates from 1997 through the first quarter of 2000.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services routinely bases coverage decisions on AHRQ-funded technical assessments. Using the AHRQ Technology Assessment for Actinic Keratoses Treatment, for example, CMS revised its Medicare Coverage Issues Manual to include a national coverage policy permitting coverage for the treatment of this condition (actinic keratoses is a common skin condition that is often the precursor of skin cancer).

The Office of Personnel Management uses a tool developed from an AHRQ-funded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) project to help Federal employees choose among the 400-plus health plans in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). Called PlanSmartChoice, the resource is an interactive, multi-media health plan selection tool provided on CD-ROM. Today, 6 million Federal employees and retirees have the option of using the tool to help select the best health coverage for themselves and their families.

Additionally, the FEHBP makes use of AHRQ's Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS®), a resource that provides the consumers' view of the quality of care and services experienced with health plans. In the coming months, we will be providing more examples of our Impact Case Studies.

In the meantime, we encourage you to send any information you may have about the use of AHRQ-supported research to Jane Steele at Even a one-line statement such as "institution xyz is using AHRQ-supported research as part of its quality improvement program" is enough to help us get started tracking the impact of AHRQ-funded work.

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