There are so many studies published each month that a doctor or health insurer would have to read for hours a week just to keep current. On top of that sometimes there are conflicting studies, studies that are more applicable to one population than another, and other nuances that would be difficult for clinicians or payers to pick up on. Payers, doctors, and patients want to use the very best evidence when making healthcare decisions. Evidence-based Practice Centers were established in 1997 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to promote evidence-based decision making by payers, doctors, and patients. They review all the studies that have been conducted on a safety and effectiveness of a certain drug, device, surgical procedure, or intervention, determine the balance of benefits to harm, and where possible compare it to the other therapies that can be used. They produce comprehensive reports that determine the benefits and harms, the strength of the evidence, and how applicable the evidence is to patients who have the disease. They then work with the Agency for Healthcare research and Quality to create easier to understand guides for payers, clinicians, and patients and work with major medical and patient advocacy organizations to get the word out about their findings.
Projects can range anywhere from whether blood transfusions or drugs to stimulate red blood cell growth are best, whether using genetic tests improve the effectiveness and safety of drug therapy, whether stenting of clogged arteries is better than or worse than bypass surgery, and whether natural products are safe and effective. They try very hard to select questions that are practical and will have important impact on our understanding of the topic area so that key decision-makers have that information when they are making healthcare decisions.
Our research group has been doing this type of work for over 15 years but based on investments that the taxpayers made in NextGen CT and Bioscience CT, we were able to bring in and retain the very best faculty and compete for this major designation. We join an elite group of only 11 universities across North America including John’s Hopkins, Vanderbilt, and Brown who have these premier evidence synthesis groups. Our Evidence-based Practice Center is made up of faculty from the Schools of Pharmacy, Psychology, Medicine, Nursing, Education, and Statistics to create a group with the shared expertise to look at the evidence from all angles. We all use our expertise to help evaluate the evidence and to create an assessment that is impactful to the key stakeholders we support. As the co-director of the UCONN Evidence-based Practice Center I will be sure to bring you the results of our projects over the next five years so you can directly benefit from that knowledge as well.
Dr. Michael White