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Effective Health Care Program

A Framework for Conceptualizing Evidence Needs of Health Systems

White Paper
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Structured Abstract

Objectives. To develop a framework for understanding the evidence needs of health systems to inform the AHRQ EPC Program future efforts.

Data sources. Three data sources were used: (a) peer-reviewed literature from a systematic search of English-language publications in MEDLINE from January 2007–April 2017, (b) original data from four programs serving health system requests for evidence syntheses, and (c) input during a face-to-face meeting at AHRQ in June 2017 from health system stakeholders and EPC investigators.

Methods. Data were synthesized narratively and thematically. We developed an initial framework to guide discussion and qualitative analysis. We built consensus around themes and refinement of the framework through weekly phone conferences, electronic communications, and a face-to-face meeting of workgroup members and health systems experts.

Results. From the literature review, we found that health systems seek evidence to inform decisions about acquiring new or emerging medical technologies; implementation or expansion of service offerings; and selection of governance, finance or delivery system models. Studies emphasize a preference for rapidly completed, succinct and easily understood evidence syntheses with layered information presentations. Studies of tools for promoting health system use of evidence describe methods for clarifying how the evidence applies to the local and operational context and how evidence intersects with other considerations in decisionmaking. Data from the four evidence synthesis programs illustrate a breadth of questions addressed and report types used by health systems. Discussions with health system experts highlighted the importance of trustworthiness of the process for synthesizing published literature; trustworthiness of the evidence itself; mechanisms for integrating internally generated data with evidence from published literature; and evaluation, feedback and updating mechanisms facilitated by transforming the published literature into machine executable knowledge for use by decisionmakers.

Conclusions. We identified several domains to facilitate interaction between health systems and evidence synthesis producers. Successful engagement will require specifying the type of decision or question of the health system; type of evidence synthesis to best address the question(s) of interest; tools to promote the use of evidence; and a feedback or auditing mechanism to determine the impact of evidence integration into health system decisions. Both the trustworthiness of the evidence synthesis process and communication of the trustworthiness of the evidence are additional key domains. Partnerships with health systems are critical for understanding their evidence needs and establishing trust.


Suggested citation: Schoelles K, Umscheid CA, Lin JS, Concannon TW, Skelly AC, Viswanathan M, Chang C, Kato E, Bass E, Lavenberg J, Peterson K, Newton A, Meyers E, Springs S, Christensen V, Floyd N, Fiordalisi C, Guise JM, Murad MH. A Framework for Conceptualizing Evidence Needs of Health Systems. Research White Paper. (Prepared by Scientific Resource Center, under Contract No. 290-2012-0004-C). AHRQ Publication No. 18-EHC004-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; December 2017. Posted final reports are located on the Effective Health Care Program search page.