Is the Clinical Advice You Give Your Patients Evidence-Based?

Carolyn Clancy, MD


November 03, 2008


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Like many physicians today, you might be bemoaning the challenges facing us. But despite those challenges, new advances in science are helping us provide better care to our patients.

There's just one downside: it's impossible to keep up with it all.

One great challenge in healthcare is finding reliable and practical data that can inform decisions.[1] The problem isn't a lack of information; it's too much information, and the quality of some of it is poor.

Previously, I told you about the Effective Health Care Program,[2] which is run by my agency, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. I'm happy to report that this project has grown into a rich resource.

The Effective Health Care Program facilitates decision-making by synthesizing the findings of high-quality research and disseminating these findings widely -- in reports and guides for consumers and clinicians on treatments for diseases ranging from depression to osteoarthritis. This unbiased information enables you and your patients to compare treatment options, such as oral medications for type 2 diabetes, and see which have proven the most effective. In fact, some of our Effective Health Care reports are cited by Consumer Reports for its Best Buy Drugs series.

Please visit our Web site,, to read and comment on these reports as they are proposed and drafted, and to make use of the published guides and reports.

In order to translate mountains of data into useful information, we need one central, trustworthy, and neutral repository of side-by-side comparisons of drugs and devices so that you and your patients can make informed decisions about the best available treatments. The Effective Health Care Program is emerging as this information clearinghouse -- a foundation on which a larger investment in comparative effectiveness research can be built.[3] I believe American clinicians and patients will benefit from its work.

I'm Dr. Carolyn Clancy, Director of the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and that's my opinion.



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