Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
What is AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program?
AHRQ mission is to produce evidence to make health care safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable, and affordable, and to work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other partners to make sure that the evidence is understood and used.
AHRQ’s Effective Health Care (EHC) Program works with researchers, research centers, and academic organizations to produce comparative effectiveness research and translate findings into useful formats for a variety of audiences, including consumers and clinicians. Partners can help shape AHRQ’s EHC Program research by nominating a research topic, commenting on key research questions and reports, and supporting the translation of the research by engaging health professionals, patients, and caregivers with the evidence-based treatment summaries.
What is comparative effectiveness research?
Comparative effectiveness research, a type of patient-centered outcomes research, provides information that helps clinicians and patients work together to treat an illness or condition. By comparing drugs, medical devices, tests, surgeries, or ways to deliver health care, patients and their families can make more informed choices.
- Findings are descriptive, not prescriptive, and are intended as tools for informed decision making, not recommendations.
- Findings highlight current evidence about effectiveness, risks, and side effects.
- The comparative effectiveness research reports and products identify areas of clinical uncertainty. The summaries for clinicians and patients efficiently and clearly present evidence and help clinicians and patients share decision making.
Why is comparative effectiveness research needed?
When it comes to choosing the right medicine or the most appropriate health care treatment, clear, unbiased, and dependable evidence-based information can be difficult to find.
Much of the information on treatments is about a single drug, medical device, or procedure. As a result, patients and clinicians may make choices without having sufficient information on all the options and may not be able to have quick access to how the options compare to each other.
Comparative effectiveness research helps by comparing different health care interventions for common conditions. Researchers rigorously evaluate existing scientific literature and generate new findings through scientific studies of different treatments and tests and compile them into brief summaries that highlight the clinical bottom line for clinicians and decision makers and into educational tools for patients and caregivers.
How can comparative effectiveness research be used?
Findings from comparative effectiveness research can be helpful to everyone participating in health care decision making—
Patients and caregivers often face complicated decisions, such as which test is best, which medicine will help most with the fewest side effects, or whether surgery is the best option. Every patient is different, and each should make informed choices based on individual needs. By providing EHC Program products that summarize evidence-based comparative effectiveness research findings, you can help consumers and patients work with their doctors and other health providers to make an educated decision among treatment options.
Health professionals use comparative effectiveness research to keep current on comparisons of medications and treatments. AHRQ describes the strength of evidence behind scientific findings. The products developed by the EHC Program help distill the information so health professionals and patients can review treatment options together. When research is not available to answer clinical questions, AHRQ publications highlight research gaps.
Policymakers, business leaders, and others want to make health care policy decisions based on the best information about effectiveness. Comparative effectiveness research helps decision makers plan public health programs and initiate wellness or advocacy programs that provide information about health care options.
What is the Treatment Options: Explore. Compare. Prepare. initiative?
The Treatment Options: Explore. Compare. Prepare. initiative highlights research findings from AHRQ’s EHC Program, a leading Federal effort that compares treatments and interventions for various health conditions and makes the findings public. The Treatment Options initiative was developed with input from partner organizations across the United States, representing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, patients, consumer advocates, and many others who support the EHC Program’s goals. It targets efforts to reach both consumers and health professionals. A Spanish language version of Treatment Options, Toma las riendas: Infórmate. Compara. Prepárate., was developed to reach Hispanic/Latino communities.
As a member of the National Partnership Network, your organization has access to Treatment Options resources and tools.
What are the benefits of partnership?
AHRQ and the EHC Program support the efforts of your organization to improve the quality of health care in your community. We encourage you to inform your members about the importance of understanding treatment options and the benefits of using medical evidence to compare them. By sharing AHRQ’s comparative effectiveness research products, you can make it easier for patients, caregivers, and health professionals to make decisions together, save time, and support evidence-based practice. The benefits of partnering with AHRQ include—
- Opportunities to connect with groundbreaking, comprehensive efforts to improve comparative effectiveness research
- Recognition as a partner in AHRQ’s National Partnership Network materials
- Free resources and tools for your members
- Access to AHRQ EHC Program materials and updates on the latest research
- Opportunities to provide input and preview EHC Program materials
How does the Treatment Options initiative complement the current work of partners and AHRQ?
The Treatment Options initiative offers additional resources—beyond treatment summaries—to help health professionals access new tools and support individuals and communities to become more engaged in their health care. These resources include Treatment Options and Toma las riendas Web pages, a video series, public service announcements and brochures, and digital tools for partner organizations. These additional resources facilitate partners’ ability to connect patients and caregivers in their community to information they can use to improve their health and health care experiences.
Why should my organization get involved in the Treatment Options initiative?
Patients are often faced with complicated decisions, such as which test is best, which medicine will help most with the fewest side effects, or whether surgery is the best option. The Treatment Options initiative encourages people living with health conditions and their caregivers to explore treatment options for their conditions, compare the benefits and risks of each, and prepare to discuss them with their health providers. By getting involved, your organization can connect patients and caregivers in your community to reliable resources that help them talk with their health providers about the benefits and risks of treatment options for a variety health conditions. Organizations engaging health professionals can provide valuable opportunities for members to access free resources and continuing education opportunities, inform AHRQ’s research, and get access to the latest unbiased, treatment summaries to inform evidence-based practice and patient education.
How can my organization get involved in the Treatment Options initiative?
The Treatment Options initiative promotes reliable resources that help patients talk with their health providers about the benefits and risks of treatment options for a variety of health conditions. There are many ways to get involved; below is just a sample of activities. Please visit www.ahrq.gov/clinicalbottomline or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
- Provide free tools for patients and caregivers to explore their treatment options and prepare for medical appointments. To order free treatment summaries for patients and other materials, call 800–358–9295.
- Feature products of interest to your organization. News about the Treatment Options initiative and EHC Program resources can be shared in your organization’s newsletters, journals, and other resources. Contact us for ideas and templates.
- Bring the initiative to your network. Include free Treatment Options materials at annual conferences, member meetings, or health fairs.
- Share free continuing education opportunities.
Who are members of the National Partnership Network, and how are they involved in the Treatment Options initiative?
A national network of more than 600 partner organizations supports AHRQ’s efforts to share health information with consumers, health professionals, and others. The network includes Federal, State, and local health agencies, health professional groups, consumer advocacy groups, health systems, and businesses. This initiative—intended to reach both consumers and health professionals—was developed with input from partner organizations across the United States, representing physicians, nurses, pharmacists, patients, consumer advocates, and many others who support the EHC Program’s goals. See a list of some of the national and regional partners in the network.
Where can I find more information on the Treatment Options initiative?
Visit us online at the following sites or email email@example.com for more information. To order free treatment summaries for patients and other materials, call 800-358-9295.
Treatment Options Web site for health professionals: www.ahrq.gov/clinicalbottomline
Treatment Options Web site for patients: www.ahrq.gov/treatmentoptions
Treatment Options Web site – Spanish: www.AHRQ.gov/salud