HHS should create program to assess healthcare effectiveness

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Congress should direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to create a national clinical effectiveness assessment program to optimize the use of evidence to identify effective healthcare services, according to a report released last week from The Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Three functions that IOM said are central to the program’s mission are: 1) setting priorities for evidence assessment; 2) assessing evidence through systematic reviews; and 3) developing standards for trusted clinical practice guidelines.

Such a program would provide a “credible, unbiased and understandable synthesis" of studies, which "could help minimize the use of questionable services and target services to the patients most likely to benefit,” said the report.

If conducted properly, the report said that “the systematic review should make obvious the gap between what is known about the effectiveness of a particular service and what clinicians and patients want to know.” Program membership should include representatives from public and private sectors, the report said.