Evidence-Based Health Care: About the National Working Group
The National Working Group on Evidence-Based Health Care (the Working Group) is a collaboration of patient/consumer organizations, professional societies, providers, researchers, and other interested stakeholders that want to stay abreast of the developments and initiatives in evidence-based healthcare. Since January 2006, the Working Group has sought to educate and engage patient/consumer groups, as well as other stakeholders and to advance the dialogue about meaningful participation by patient/consumer stakeholders in such efforts.
Comparative Effectiveness Research: Background
Comparative effectiveness research (CER) examines different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients. It may compare similar treatments, such as competing drugs, or it may analyze very different approaches, such as psychotherapy and prescription medications. The analysis may focus only on the relative medical benefits and risks of each option, or it may also weigh both the costs and the benefits of those options.
The bottom line is that CER seeks to find which treatment works best for a given medical condition. CER or health technology assessment has actually been used by health insurance companies for some time to weed out "inferior" treatments by determining which ones work the best, although what is important is the appropriate use of the results.
Policymakers hope that CER will encourage better decision-making by payers, providers, and patients/consumers to reduce healthcare spending without compromising the quality of care. But for patients, the question remains, "how will this research based on the average effects of treatment of populations be used to make very personal treatment decisions about my healthcare?"