With the collapse of health system reform efforts in Congress, all eyes are turning to the states and the private sector for leadership in reshaping our health care system. But there remains a critical role for the federal government in health care, particularly in research.
In addition to the biomedical research that results in discoveries made at the National Institutes of Health, an equally important area involves finding ways to ensure that such discoveries are translated into interventions that work for patients.
Health systems research—producing and disseminating scientific and policy-relevant information about the medical effectiveness, quality, and cost of health care—is the role of the AHCPR, which Congress created in 1989. This is the only federal agency charged with studying what actually works in real-world medical care settings and how much value Americans are getting for the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on health care each year.