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Message From the Director of the EHC Program

Welcome to the inaugural issue of Comparative Effectiveness News! AHRQ is very excited to provide researchers, policymakers, industry leaders, and others with this quarterly update on research findings and other developments of AHRQ's Effective Health Care Program.

Many of you already know our story: Created in 2003 by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, the Effective Health Care Program is the Federal Government's ground-breaking initiative to make head-to-head comparisons of health care interventions. We feel fortunate to be stewards of an enterprise whose principles speak so directly to the mission of improving the effectiveness and safety of American health care. Our research relies faithfully on evidence-based research that has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Our research also is conducted with a healthy dose of public input that is essential to our mission of transparency.

We are proud of the work produced so far — 13 Comparative Effectiveness Reviews; 18 summary guides on 10 topics; a user’s guide to creating and managing patient registries; and a 24-article supplement to the journal Medical Care that advanced the national discussion on how electronic health information can improve patient care.

Jean R. Slutsky

We’re using various tools to spread the word about the Effective Health Care Program. Aside from being translated into plain-language translational guides for clinicians, consumers, and policymakers, many of our comparative effectiveness reports have been made into AHRQ podcasts. Drug information software provider ePocrates has featured many EHC reports, resulting in more than 300,000 messages sent to clinicians’ hand-held devices or computers. Large newspapers, magazines, and health Web sites have generously highlighted our work.

Is it time to rest? Not a chance. Increased funding by Congress and an energetic staff have set a full agenda for months to come. Here are some items to watch for as our Effective Health Care Program moves forward:

  • A new 17-member EHC Stakeholder Group will be helping the Effective Health Care Program set research priorities, develop research products, and disseminate research findings.
  • An expansion of research boundaries will lead to new research projects in the areas of obesity, autism, infectious diseases, substance abuse, and other areas.
  • AHRQ’s Sept. 7-10 annual meeting in Bethesda, MD, will include numerous sessions related to comparative effectiveness.
  • More research products will reach completion. The Effective Health Care Program has launched numerous comparative reviews, rapid-turnaround DEcIDE research reports, and summary guides, many of which will be available in Spanish.
  • And soon to be added to the Effective Health Care inventory (and highlighted on the EHC Web site) will be a series of “technical briefs” — quick turnaround reports on emerging diagnostic or therapeutic technologies.

Yes, we’re busy. But we’re grateful for the chance to share some of our work via the new Comparative Effectiveness News. And we’d appreciate your thoughts on the Effective Health Care Program and the rapidly advancing science of comparative effectiveness. Let’s keep the conversation going!

— Jean