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GAO Finds Much Work Remains for CER Dissemination

Laura Joszt
While some progress has been made to disseminate comparative effectiveness research as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality has not taken actions to fully address requirements, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
While some progress has been made to disseminate comparative effectiveness research (CER) as mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has not taken actions to fully address requirements, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The agency has created tools to organize and disseminate research findings, but it has not defined clear time frames for implementation and distribution of information and tools to certain stakeholder groups specified in the law.

“While HHS has multiple, ongoing efforts to meets its requirements under [ACA} related to CER, it has not determined how it will fully address some of these requirements, particularly those related to dissemination and data capacity building,” according to the report.

CER could help patients and providers make better healthcare decisions by providing more complete clinical information; however, the availability of this information remains limited.

“Disseminating CER in a timely manner is particularly challenging given the length of time and uncertainty inherent in applying research findings to help improve health care practice,” the authors of the report wrote.

According to the report, while HHS has coordinated various agencies to build data capacity for CER, its approach lacks effectiveness because it needs defined objectives, milestones, and time frames.

As of February 2014, the strategic framework for a roadmap to enable the collection of standardized clinical data and other priorities objectives were only broadly outlined and not defined, according to GAO. For instance, the roadmap is unclear on the timing and coordination necessary to improve data capacity.

The report also provides 4 recommended actions that can be taken by AHRQ, all of which HHS concurs:

 
1. Identify and document time frames for the implementation and distribution of marketing plans and information tools.
2. Expand dissemination efforts to federal and private health plans and vendors of health information technology focused on clinical decision support.
3. Document and complete plans to develop a publicly available database.
4. Develop specific plans on how it will collaborate with the National Institutes of Health on dissemination activities.


 
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