In this issue:
A new online tool from the Effective Health Care Program helps post-menopausal women explore the benefits and risks of various medications for low bone density. Healthy Bones: A Decision Aid for Women After Menopause is AHRQ’s second interactive patient decision aid, following the release of Knowing Your Options: A Decision Aid for Men With Clinically Localized Prostate Cancer. The new tool walks women through a risk assessment, compares medications and other treatments for low bone density, and suggests questions for patients to ask their health care providers. The decision aid is based on an AHRQ-funded research review titled Treatment to Prevent Fractures in Men and Women with Low Bone Density or Osteoporosis—an Update to the 2007 Report (2011).
Understanding the vital role that pharmacists play in patient care, AHRQ’s Effective Health Care (EHC) Program has partnered with more than 20 schools of pharmacy and 5 national associations to integrate comparative effectiveness research into pharmacy school curricula and training programs.
The University of Arizona College Of Pharmacy, for example, is using plain-language EHC Program research summaries in educational workshops. Educators also developed a training program to help pharmacy and therapeutics committees include comparative effectiveness research in decisionmaking.
National pharmacy associations, such as the American College of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, are sharing EHC Program resources with their members. AMCP is also including research findings in tools for practicing pharmacists.
Ken Shermock, Pharm.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, is leading efforts at the hospital and the University of Maryland to include information about the importance of comparative effectiveness research and EHC Program materials in pharmacy school curricula, including developing a symposia and certificate program.
Dr. Shermock is a member of an AHRQ-sponsored pharmacy workgroup, which includes community and hospital pharmacists, researchers, and academics that has helped the Agency reach out to pharmacy organizations.
"Comparative effectiveness research answers the questions the way they’re supposed to be answered," said Dr. Shermock. "This research gives pharmacists, who are a key part of the medical team, the best type of information to make the best decisions."
A new addition to AHRQ’s expanding series of Data Points publications examines the growing use of proton beam radiotherapy to treat prostate cancer.
The Data Points series analyze trends in health care services in Medicare patient populations. Published by research centers in AHRQ’s Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions about Effectiveness (DEcIDE) Network, the reports provide descriptive statistics, background information, and analytic tables on a variety of specific, focused topics.
The recent report on proton beam radiotherapy analyzes the treatment’s growing use among prostate cancer patients. The report notes that, with more than 215,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, the use of this therapy will have significant implications for Medicare and health care provider costs. The report found that from 2006 to 2009, the number of Medicare beneficiaries receiving proton beam therapy nearly doubled.
Information from this and other Data Points reports support AHRQ’s ongoing research initiatives by helping investigators identify research topics and focus on treatment questions that will be most useful in improving patient care.
Twelve Data Points reports are currently available on topics including diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and hypertension. Upcoming additions to the series include reports on disabled individuals who are newly Medicare-eligible and gene expression profiling for predicting colon cancer outcomes.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) working in retail clinics are invited to enter AHRQ’s "Evidence-Based Care Challenge," a contest that invites NPs and PAs to translate AHRQ research reports into user-friendly resources that can be used by their peers. The contest will run from June 18 to October 19.
Contest entries must be based on findings from the AHRQ Health Literacy report plus findings from either the Otitis Media report or the Screening for Obesity in Children and Adolescents report (i.e., Health Literacy + Otitis media OR Health Literacy + Screening for Obesity).
Interested parties are encouraged to form a team (including at least one NP or PA) and develop resources in any form or format that helps NPs and PAs deliver evidence-based care in the retail clinic setting. Submissions will be scored by an expert panel. The first place winner will receive $7,500 to implement the product in a retail setting.
More information about entry criteria, scoring, and additional awards are available at: http://ebc-challenge.org/
To access all Effective Health Care Program resources, visit www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov.
EHC Inside Track is a newsletter highlighting important news and developments from AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program.
Call 1-800-358-9295 and use reference code C-01 to get free print copies of EHC Program clinician and consumer research summaries.