The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) serves as the science partner with private-sector and
public organizations in their efforts to improve the quality, effectiveness,
and appropriateness of health care delivery in the United States, and to
expedite the translation of evidence-based research findings into improved
health care services. In this context, AHRQ awards task order contracts to its
Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) to undertake scientific analysis and
evidence syntheses on topics of high priority to its stakeholders, which includes
public and private health care payers, providers, and the health care community
The EPCs produce science syntheses—evidence reports and
technology assessments—that provide to public and private organizations the
foundation for developing and implementing their own practice guidelines,
performance measures, educational programs, and other strategies to improve the
quality of health care and of decisionmaking related to the effectiveness and
appropriateness of specific health care technologies and services. The evidence
reports and technology assessments may also be used to inform coverage and
Reports and assessments may be completed and published 18-20
months after nomination. AHRQ widely disseminates the EPC evidence reports and
technology assessments. The EPC evidence reports and technology assessments do
not make clinical recommendations or recommendations related to reimbursement
and coverage policies.
Professional societies, health systems, employers, insurers,
providers, and consumer groups are encouraged to nominate topics and thereby
collaborate with AHRQ as it carries out its mission to promote the practice of
evidence-based health care.
Role and Responsibilities of Partners
Nominators of topics selected for development into an EPC
evidence report or technology assessment may assume the role of Partners of
AHRQ and the EPCs. Partners are specific stakeholders who have defined roles
and responsibilities. Specifically, Partners serve as resources to EPCs as they
develop the evidence reports and technology assessments related to the
nominated topic; commit to timely translation of the EPC reports and
assessments into their own quality improvement tools (e.g., clinical practice
guidelines, performance measures), educational programs, and reimbursement
policies; and promote dissemination of these
derivative products to their membership as appropriate. AHRQ also is interested
in members' use of these derivative products and the products' impact on
enhanced health care. Resource materials for EPC Stakeholders in general can be
accessed at: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcpartner/stakeholderguide/
The EPCs prepare evidence reports and technology assessments
on topics for which there is significant demand for information by health care
providers, insurers, purchasers, health-related societies, and patient advocacy
organizations. Such topics may include the prevention, diagnosis and/or
treatment of particular clinical and behavioral conditions; the use of
alternative or complementary therapies; and the appropriate use of commonly
provided services, procedures, or technologies. Topics may also include issues
related to the organization and financing of health care, such as risk
adjustment methodologies, market performance measures, provider payment
mechanisms, and insurance purchasing tools, as well as measurement or
evaluation of provider integration of new scientific findings regarding health
care and health care delivery innovations. Previous evidence reports can be
found at http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcix.htm.
Reports on the comparative effectiveness of therapies, technologies, and
services can be found on the Effective Health Care Web site at http://effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov.
AHRQ is very interested in receiving topic nominations from
professional societies and organizations comprised of members of minority
populations, as well as nominations of topics that have significant impact on
AHRQ priority populations, which include low-income groups, minority groups,
women, children, the elderly, and individuals with special health care needs,
such as those with disabilities, those who need chronic care or end-of-life
health care, or those who live in inner-city and rural areas.
Nominations of topics for AHRQ evidence reports and
technology assessments should focus on specific aspects of prevention,
diagnosis, treatment, and/or management of a particular condition; an
individual procedure, treatment, or technology; or a specific health care
organizational or financial strategy. The processes that AHRQ employs to select
clinical and behavioral topics as well as organization and financing topics
nominated by the EPCs is described below. For each topic, the nominating
organization must provide the following information:
- Rationale and supporting evidence as to the relevance and
importance of the topic to be addressed.
- Three to five focused questions on the topic.
- Plans for rapid translation of the evidence reports and
technology assessments into clinical guidelines, performance measures,
educational programs, or other strategies for strengthening the quality of
health care services; or plans to inform the development of reimbursement
or coverage policies.
- Plans for use and/or dissemination of these derivative
products, e.g. to the nominating organization's membership if
- Description of the process by which the nominating
organization will measure the use of these products and the impact of such
information on how to suggest a topic for the EPC program can be found at: http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/submit-a-suggestion-for-research/how-to-suggest-a-topic-for-research/.
Factors that will be considered in the selection of topics
for AHRQ evidence reports and technology assessments include:
- Burden of disease, including severity, incidence, and/or
prevalence; or relevance of an organizational or financial topic to the
general population and/or AHRQ's priority populations, which include
low-income groups, minority groups, women, children, the elderly, and
individuals with special health care needs, such as those with
disabilities, those who need chronic care or end-of-life health care, or those
who live in inner-city and rural areas.
- Controversy or uncertainty about the topic, and about availability
of scientific data to support its systematic review and analysis.
- Total costs associated with a condition, procedure,
treatment, technology, or organizational or financial topic, whether due
to the number of people needing care, the unit cost of care, or indirect
- Potential impact, for reducing clinically significant
variations in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, or management of a
disease or condition, or variations in the use of a procedure or
technology; for informing and improving patient and/or provider
decisionmaking; for improving health outcomes; and/or reducing costs.
- Relevance to the needs of the Medicare, Medicaid, and other
Federal health care programs.
- The nominating organization's plan to disseminate
derivative products, to measure use and impact of these products on outcomes,
or to otherwise incorporate the report into its managerial or policy
information on how topics are selected can be found at http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/submit-a-suggestion-for-research/how-are-research-topics-chosen/.
Topics nominations should be submitted via the Effective Health Care Web
site at: http://www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/submit-a-suggestion-for-research/.
Current as of December 2011
EPC Topic Nomination and Selection. December 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epc/epctopicn.htm