The Effective Health Care Program Stakeholder Guide
Chapter 1: AHRQ and the Effective Health Care Program
AHRQ is a Federal agency under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. AHRQ is the lead Federal agency charged with improving the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans. The research AHRQ sponsors, conducts, and disseminates provides information that helps people make better decisions about health care.
For more information about AHRQ, please visit our Web site at www.ahrq.gov.
The EHC Program was created under Section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, which authorizes AHRQ to conduct and support research with a focus on comparing the outcomes and effectiveness of different treatments and clinical approaches, as well as communicating its findings widely to a variety of audiences. The EHC Program is the Nation’s first coordinated program of comparative effectiveness research/patient-centered outcomes research (Box 1). It is the Federal Government’s leading effort to compare the benefits and risks of various approaches to health care—different drugs, devices, surgeries, and health care delivery arrangements—to determine which approaches work best, for which patients, and under which circumstances. The overall goal of this effort is to improve health outcomes and increase the value of the health care Americans receive.
Box 1. What kind of research does the EHC program conduct?
Comparative effectiveness research/patient-centered outcomes research aims to compare the benefits and risks of various approaches to health care—different drugs, devices, surgeries, and health care delivery arrangements—to determine which approaches work best, for which patients and under which circumstances.
Learn more at www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov.
Before the EHC Program was created, most available evidence-based information was about a single drug, medical device, or procedure tested on one group of patients. Groups such as the elderly, minorities, and individuals with complex medical problems often were not included in the research. These limitations made it difficult for clinicians and their patients to compare options and to select the treatment that was best for them given their unique circumstances. Patient-centered outcomes research seeks to overcome these limitations by gathering and analyzing the evidence from multiple sources on currently available treatment options, and focuses on the impact on real patients in real-world settings.
AHRQ has built the EHC Program around the guiding principles of strong involvement of stakeholders and the maintenance of transparency and public accountability. The EHC Program’s research supports the overarching goal of providing health care decisionmakers (consumers, clinicians, policymakers, and others) with the best available scientific evidence to make informed health care decisions.
All suggestions for research are carefully considered according to a standard set of criteria (Appendix A). The EHC Program achieves its goals by awarding contracts to research centers and clinical investigators to conduct timely and relevant research. The program also supports the dissemination and implementation of the research findings.
Key players in the EHC Program include the following:
- The Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs) (www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/
index.cfm/who-is-involved-in-the-effective-health-care-program1/about-evidence-based-practice-centers-epcs) perform in-depth reviews of existing evidence.
- The Centers for Education & Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) (www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/who-is-involved-in-the-effective-health-care-program1/about-certs) conduct research and educate clinicians and consumers about drugs, biologicals, and medical devices.
- The Scientific Resource Center (SRC) (www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/
who-is-involved-in-the-effective-health-care-program1/about-the-scientific-resource-center1) provides scientific support for the EHC Program.
- The John M. Eisenberg Center for Clinical Decisions and Communications Science (www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/who-is-involved-in-the-effective-health-care-program1/about-the-eisenberg-center) organizes the research results into guides and tools that are useful to clinicians, health care policymakers, and patients.
For more information about each of the EHC Program partners, visit the Web site at www.effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov/index.cfm/who-is-involved-in-the-effective-health-care-program1.