In this issue:
By Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy and Jean Slutsky
Welcome to the inaugural issue of EHC Inside Track newsletter — a periodic round-up of important developments from AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program. AHRQ is proud to be the first Federal agency charged with conducting patient-centered outcomes research, and our growing inventory of evidence-based research findings is showing great potential to advance AHRQ’s mission of improving the effectiveness and safety of health care for all Americans. Our new EHC Inside Track represents a venue for us to share some of the highlights of this ongoing success story – feature stories on new partnerships, announcements about new product lines, invitations to upcoming Webcasts and other events, and more. The impact of the Effective Health Care Program is growing by the day. We’ve completed more than 100 evidence-based products, including comparative effectiveness reviews, reports on new and emerging medical technologies, and publications that prioritize needs for future research. We have distributed more than 1 million plain-language consumer publications summarizing research findings. To date, more than 8,000 doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals have earned continuing education credits based on the program’s research results. And we’re excited about by the growing number of national and local partners that are accessing and spreading the word about our research.
In one sense, our job has been easy; our goal of improving the quality of information available to patients, clinicians, and policymakers is shared across the health care landscape. Among groups that have used our findings to advance quality of care efforts are State Medicaid offices, medical educators, clinician organizations, patient advocacy groups, public health departments, benefits managers, business coalitions, health systems, and online medical references. Representatives from these constituencies understand that patient-centered outcomes research provides information that clinicians and patients can use, working together, to make the best possible decisions about the effectiveness, safety, and appropriateness of health care.
In coming months, we hope you’ll access our research findings in 14 priority areas, ranging from diabetes to cancer to mental health. We also hope you’ll participate in our work; when visiting the Effective Health Care Program Web site, learn how to nominate topics for future research, comment on draft reports, or submit scientific information packets that are relevant to ongoing work. In the meantime, we’ll use the EHC Inside Track to keep you informed about trends and new developments in the EHC Program and patient-centered outcomes research. In this issue, you’ll find features on our growing number of partnerships, our decision aid on prostate cancer treatments, and an update about recently released products.
If you would like to suggest an article for a future issue or share your experience using patient-centered outcomes research, please contact us at EHC_Outreach@ahrq.hhs.gov. We look forward to hearing your ideas!
Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy is director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Jean Slutsky is director of AHRQ’s Center for Outcomes and Evidence.
More than 130 organizations across the country have agreed to partner with AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program by highlighting the Agency’s patient-centered outcomes research findings at professional meetings, in newsletters, via Web conferences and other venues.
Among the most wide-ranging partnerships is the ongoing collaboration between the Effective Health Care Program and the National Association of Free Clinics (NAFC). The NAFC’s volunteer workforce of doctors, dentists, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, technicians, and other health care professionals staff free clinics for uninsured patients across the country.
In the past year, more than 28,000 Effective Health Care Program publications have been distributed at three NAFC "Communities Are Responding Everyday" (C.A.R.E) health clinics in Washington, D.C., Charlotte, N.C., and New Orleans. Patients and clinicians who attended those events had access to free, unbiased publications that summarize treatment options for health conditions ranging from diabetes to cancer to depression. In addition to providing background on health conditions, the plain-language tools explore the benefits and risks of treatment alternatives.
"Every single clinician who has read the material AHRQ has provided to us has said, ‘How I can get more?’" said NAFC Executive Director Nicole Lamoureux. "The information is helping our clinicians understand how to be more responsive to their patients, and helping the patients understand their treatment options."
Also as part of the partnership, AHRQ and the NAFC highlighted Effective Health Care Program tools to clinicians who attended Web conferences in March and December 2011 and at special sessions at the NAFC’s 2010 and 2011 annual meetings.
The NAFC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the issues and concerns of the Nation’s more than 1,200 free clinics, has been headquartered in Washington, D.C., since 2001.
Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, AHRQ’s director, summed up the importance of the partnership between AHRQ and the NAFC.
"Working in a free clinic is a little like working in an emergency room or urgent care clinic, since you don’t always know which patients are going to come back," she said. "So, the more information you and your patients have about treatment options during the initial visit, the better your chances at providing safe, effective care."
While its relationship with the NAFC continues to grow, AHRQ is establishing other important partnerships with organizations dedicated to providing evidence-based information to their constituencies. If your organization wants to learn more about the Effective Health Care Program and the AHRQ National Partnership Network, email us at EHC_Outreach@ahrq.hhs.gov or visit our Partnership Portal page.
A new Web-based, interactive decision aid from the Effective Health Care Program empowers men recently diagnosed with clinically localized prostate cancer to explore their treatment options and talk to their doctors about which options are best for them.
About 17 percent of men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Men with clinically localized prostate cancer have many options for managing their cancer, including the option to not receive immediate treatment. Knowing Your Options: A Decision Aid for Men With Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer presents these patients with the benefits and risks of each available option and guides them through a self-directed, interactive experience to help them consider each possible choice.
The online tool walks patients through detailed, easy-to-to-read information on the prostate gland, cancer diagnosis, and the benefits and risks of immediate treatment, active surveillance, and watchful waiting. Patients and their caregivers can explore information about their treatment options at their own pace, answering questions that encourage them to consider their personal health care priorities, such as: If you decided to have your cancer monitored closely instead of treating it right away, how would you feel about your decision?
Videos, graphics, and animations illustrate complex concepts such as how a tumor grows in the prostate cancer gland and how radiation therapy is used to kill cancer cells. After completing the decision aid, patients can save and print a personalized information summary to discuss their circumstances with their health care team or significant others.
The new decision aid serves as an important tool for ongoing education and advocacy work in the prostate cancer community. For health care providers, it can prompt valuable discussions not only about patients’ treatment options, but also their questions, concerns, and priorities.
Knowing Your Options: A Decision Aid for Men With Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer is the first in a series of interactive patient decision aids from AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program. The tools are designed to support patient involvement in making complex medical decisions. Development of the decision aids is guided by the criteria of the International Patient Decision Aid Standards (IPDAS) Collaboration and the information presented is based on rigorous Effective Health Care Program research evaluating numerous clinical studies on each topic.
Next in the decision aid series will be a tool exploring Comparisons of Therapies for Low Bone Density. To learn more about AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program decision aids and other free education materials, visit www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov.
To access all Effective Health Care Program Resources, visit effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov.
Call 1-800-358-9295 and use reference code C-01 to get free print copies of EHC clinician and consumer guides