Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program Overview
In 1997, the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), now known as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), launched its initiative to promote evidence-based practice in everyday care through establishment of the Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) Program. The EPCs develop evidence reports and technology assessments on topics relevant to clinical and other health care organization and delivery issues—specifically those that are common, expensive, and/or significant for the Medicare and Medicaid populations. With this program, AHRQ became a "science partner" with private and public organizations in their efforts to improve the quality, effectiveness, and appropriateness of health care by synthesizing the evidence and facilitating the translation of evidence-based research findings. Topics are nominated by non-Federal partners such as professional societies, health plans, insurers, employers, and patient groups.
Go to the topic nomination procedures. Federal partners often request evidence reports and should contact the EPC Program Director for more information.
The Effective Health Care (EHC) Program, which was created from the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, sponsors systematic reviews, and the translation and dissemination of research findings to a variety of audiences, including clinicians, consumers, and policymakers. Within the EHC Program, EPCs conduct Comparative Effectiveness Reviews, Effectiveness Reviews, and Technical Briefs, focused on patient-centered outcomes.
The reports conducted under the purview of the EHC Program can be found at the Effective Health Care Program Web site. Documents for review and public comment as well as other methods projects may also be found on the EHC Web site.
One of the unique aspects of the EHC Program is the involvement of a diverse range of stakeholders throughout the research process to ensure relevancy and transparency. Collaboration with a broad range of health care stakeholders is a cornerstone of AHRQ's research. AHRQ firmly believes that involving all stakeholders in the research enterprise from the beginning improves the end product and facilitates the diffusion and implementation of the research findings by ensuring that they reflect the various needs of all diverse users, are relevant to their unique challenges, and are applicable in real-world situations.
The Effective Health Care (EHC) Program is supported by the Scientific Resource Center (SRC). It supports the program by: providing scientific and technical support to protect the scientific credibility and independence of EHC Program products; coordinating peer review for evidence reports and other reports; supporting the work of reviews and other research projects by supporting consistent use of trusted methods for conducting research, such as through updates to the Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews; and providing technical support for topic nomination and selection processes.
In 2019, AHRQ announced the sixth award of 5-year contracts for EPC-VI to 9 EPCs to continue the work performed by the previous group of EPCs.
- EPCs conduct technology assessments for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Go to: Technology Assessment Program for more information.
- EPCs support the work of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Go to: USPSTF for more information.
- EPCs conduct systematic reviews and technical briefs under the EHC Program. Go to: the Effective Health Care Program Web site for more information.
The current EPCs are located at:
- Brown University.
- ECRI Institute—Penn Medicine.
- Johns Hopkins University.
- Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates.
- Mayo Clinic.
- Minnesota Evidence-based Practice Center.
- Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center—Oregon Health and Science University.
- RTI International—University of North Carolina.
- Southern California.
For contacts and additional information about the current participating EPCs, go to: Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs).
The Scientific Resource Center is located at the Portland VA Research Foundation and led by Mark Helfand, M.D., M.P.H., Director.
The EPCs review all relevant scientific literature on clinical, behavioral, and organization and financing topics to produce evidence reports, technical reviews (covering nonclinical methodological topics), and technology assessments.
These reports, reviews, and technology assessments are based on rigorous, comprehensive syntheses and analyses of the scientific literature on topics relevant to clinical, social science/behavioral, economic, and other health care organization and delivery issues. EPC reports and assessments emphasize explicit and detailed documentation of methods, rationale, and assumptions. EPC reports are conducted in accordance with an established policy on financial and nonfinancial interests [PDF, 405 KB]. These scientific syntheses may include meta-analyses and cost analyses. All EPCs collaborate with other medical and research organizations so that a broad range of experts is included in the development process.
The resulting evidence reports and technology assessments are used by Federal and State agencies, private-sector professional societies, health delivery systems, providers, payers, and others committed to evidence-based health care.
In addition, the EPCs will:
- Provide technical assistance to professional organizations, employers, providers, policymakers, etc. to facilitate translation of the reports into quality improvement tools, evidence-based curricula, and reimbursement policies.
- Undertake methods research.
- Update prior evidence reports.
AHRQ's Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement (CEPI) oversees the EPC Program. For more information about the program contact:
Stephanie Chang, M.D., MPH
Director, EPC Program
Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
Phone: (301) 427-1490
Fax: (301) 427-1520