Clinical practice guidelines for heart failure. (1/114)

Development of guidelines can be a difficult process; each organization or institution must establish the rules and criteria for including specific therapies and the level of complexity needed. Specific outcomes must be incorporated, including maintenance of comfort and functionality, freedom from hospitalization, and survival. In existing guidelines for the management of heart failure, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor therapy is clearly the gold standard. However, there is still a high mortality with ACE inhibitor therapy; the key may be choosing the right patients. Current guidelines reflect the uncertainty regarding digoxin before the Digitalis Investigation Group (DIG) trial; obviously, these guidelines should be revisited. Clinical practice guidelines for the management of heart failure need to be revised to include a better consensus on beta-blockade, the new data on digoxin, emerging data on angiotensin II receptor antagonists, and current thinking on anticoagulant therapy.  (+info)

Technology assessment, coverage decisions, and conflict: the role of guidelines. (2/114)

As pressure grows for health plans to be accountable for increasing quality of care within a cost-control environment, coverage of new technologies becomes a particularly challenging issue. For a number of reasons, health plans have adopted evidence-based methods for guiding technology decisions. The implementation of these methods has not been free of controversy, and conflicts have arisen between plans and proponents of technologies who often use the political and legal arena in an attempt to secure coverage. Unless these conflicts are resolved, the healthcare system may have difficulty meeting cost and quality objectives. Technology assessment and coverage process guidelines and flexible coverage approaches may be possible ways of resolving these conflicts.  (+info)

Barriers between guidelines and improved patient care: an analysis of AHCPR's Unstable Angina Clinical Practice Guideline. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. (3/114)

OBJECTIVES: To describe common barriers that limit the effect of guidelines on patient care, with emphasis on recommendations for triage in the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) Unstable Angina Clinical Practice Guideline. DATA SOURCES: Previously reported results from a prospective clinical study of 10,785 patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with symptoms suggestive of acute cardiac ischemia. STUDY DESIGN: Design is an analysis of the AHCPR guideline with regard to recognized barriers in guideline implementation. Presentation of hypothetical scenarios to ED physicians was used to determine interrater reliability in applying the guideline to assess risk and to make triage decisions. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The AHCPR guideline's triage recommendations demonstrate (1) poor interobserver reliability in interpretation by ED physicians; (2) limited applicability of recommendations for outpatient management (applies to 6 percent of patients presenting to the ED with unstable angina); (3) incomplete specifications of exceptions that may require deviation from guideline recommendations; (4) unexpected effects on medical care by significantly increasing the demand for limited intensive care beds; and (5) unknown effects on patient outcomes. In addition, analysis of the guideline highlights the need to address organizational barriers, such as administrative policies that conflict with guideline recommendations and the need to adapt the guideline to conform to local systems of care. CONCLUSIONS: Careful analysis of guideline attributes, projected effect on medical care, and organizational factors reveal several barriers to successful guideline implementation that should be addressed in the design of future guideline-based interventions.  (+info)

Smoking cessation in primary care clinics. (4/114)

OBJECTIVES: To document smoking cessation rates achieved by applying the 1996 Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) smoking cessation guidelines for primary care clinics, compare these quit rates with historical results, and determine if quit rates improve with an additional motivational intervention that includes education as well as spirometry and carbon monoxide measurements. DESIGN: Randomized clinical trial. SETTING: Two university-affiliated community primary care clinics. PATIENTS: Two hundred five smokers with routinely scheduled appointments. INTERVENTION: All smokers were given advice and support according to AHCPR guidelines. Half of the subjects received additional education with spirometry and carbon monoxide measurements. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Quit rate was evaluated at 9-month follow-up. Eleven percent of smokers were sustained quitters at follow-up. Sustained quit rate was no different for intervention and control groups (9% vs 14%; [OR] 0.6; 95% [CI] 0.2, 1.4). Nicotine replacement therapy was strongly associated with sustained cessation (OR 6.7; 95% CI 2.3, 19.6). Subjects without insurance were the least likely to use nicotine replacement therapy ( p =.05). Historical data from previously published studies showed that 2% of smokers quit following physician advice, and additional support similar to AHCPR guidelines increased the quit rate to 5%. CONCLUSIONS: The sustained smoking cessation rate achieved by following AHCPR guidelines was 11% at 9 months, which compares favorably with historical results. Additional education with spirometry did not improve the quit rate. Nicotine replacement therapy was the strongest predictor of cessation, yet was used infrequently owing to cost. These findings support the use of AHCPR guidelines in primary care clinics, but do not support routine spirometry for motivating patients similar to those studied here.  (+info)

Job-based health insurance, 1977-1998: the accidental system under scrutiny. (5/114)

This paper highlights changes in employer-based health insurance from 1977 to 1998, based on national household surveys conducted by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) in 1977, 1987, and 1996; and surveys of employers by the AHCPR in 1977, by the Health Insurance Association of America in 1988, and by KPMG Peat Marwick/Kaiser Family Foundation in 1998. During the study years, in 1998 dollars, the cost of job-based insurance increased 2.6-fold, and employees' contributions for coverage increased 3.5-fold. The percentage of nonelderly Americans covered by job-based insurance plummeted from 71 percent to 64 percent. This decline occurred exclusively among non-college-educated Americans. An information-based global economy is likely to produce not only greater future wealth but also greater inequalities in income and health benefits.  (+info)

Are nonspecific practice guidelines potentially harmful? A randomized comparison of the effect of nonspecific versus specific guidelines on physician decision making. (6/114)

OBJECTIVE: To test the ability of two different clinical practice guideline formats to influence physician ordering of electrodiagnostic tests in low back pain. DATA SOURCES/STUDY DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial of the effect of practice guidelines on self-reported physician test ordering behavior in response to a series of 12 clinical vignettes. Data came from a national random sample of 900 U.S. neurologists, physical medicine physicians, and general internists. INTERVENTION: Two different versions of a practice guideline for the use of electrodiagnostic tests (EDT) were developed by the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research Low Back Problems Panel. The two guidelines were similar in content but varied in the specificity of their recommendations. DATA COLLECTION: The proportion of clinical vignettes for which EDTs were ordered for appropriate and inappropriate clinical indications in each of three physician groups were randomly assigned to receive vignettes alone, vignettes plus the nonspecific version of the guideline, or vignettes plus the specific version of the guideline. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The response rate to the survey was 71 percent. The proportion of appropriate vignettes for which EDTs were ordered averaged 77 percent for the no guideline group, 71 percent for the nonspecific guideline group, and 79 percent for the specific guideline group (p = .002). The corresponding values for the number of EDTs ordered for inappropriate vignettes were 32 percent, 32 percent, and 26 percent, respectively (p = .08). Pairwise comparisons showed that physicians receiving the nonspecific guidelines ordered fewer EDTs for appropriate clinical vignettes than did physicians receiving no guidelines (p = .02). Furthermore, compared to physicians receiving nonspecific guidelines, physicians receiving specific guidelines ordered significantly more EDTs for appropriate vignettes (p = .0007) and significantly fewer EDTs for inappropriate vignettes (p = .04). CONCLUSIONS: The clarity and clinical applicability of a guideline may be important attributes that contribute to the effects of practice guidelines.  (+info)

Do consumer reports of health plan quality affect health plan selection? (7/114)

OBJECTIVE: To learn whether consumer reports of health plan quality can affect health plan selection. DATA SOURCES: A sample of 311 privately insured adults from Los Angeles County. STUDY DESIGN: The design was a fractional factorial experiment. Consumers reviewed materials on four hypothetical health plans and selected one. The health plans varied as to cost, coverage, type of plan, ability to keep one's doctor, and quality, as measured by the Consumer Assessment of Health Plans Study (CAHPS) survey. DATA ANALYSIS: We used multinomial logistic regression to model each consumer's choice among health plans. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In the absence of CAHPS information, 86 percent of consumers preferred plans that covered more services, even though they cost more. When CAHPS information was provided, consumers shifted to less expensive plans covering fewer services if CAHPS ratings identified those plans as higher quality (59 percent of consumers preferred plans covering more services). Consumer choices were unaffected when CAHPS ratings identified the more expensive plans covering more services as higher quality (89 percent of consumers preferred plans covering more services). CONCLUSIONS: This study establishes that, under certain realistic conditions, CAHPS ratings could affect consumer selection of health plans and ultimately contain costs. Other studies are needed to learn how to enhance exposure and use of CAHPS information in the real world as well as to identify other conditions in which CAHPS ratings could make a difference.  (+info)

The outcomes of outcomes and effectiveness research: impacts and lessons from the first decade. (8/114)

OBJECTIVE: To assess the outcomes of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ; formerly the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, AHCPR) first decade of focus on outcomes and effectiveness research (OER) and to identify needs and opportunities for the study of OER in the coming years. DATA SOURCE: Study findings were collected in response to an inquiry by the Center for Outcomes and Effectiveness Research at AHRQ in July 1997 to all principal investigators (PIs) funded between 1989 and 1997. The request was for investigators to identify their "most salient findings" and supply material for up to three slides. STUDY DESIGN: A taxonomy of 11 non-mutually exclusive categories was used to group the investigators' salient findings by characteristics of methodology or purpose. Two health services researchers assigned findings to up to three categories for each discrete study. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Responses were received from 61 (64 percent) of the 91 PIs, reporting on 115 studies. Of the 246 category assignments made, descriptive epidemiology was the most common (24 percent), followed by comparative effectiveness (17 percent) and economic assessments (12 percent). Most studies were retrospective analyses of administrative data. Viewed within a conceptual framework for assessing the impact of research, OER has built a solid foundation for future quality improvement efforts by identifying problems, generating hypotheses, and developing new methodologies and has had limited impact on health care policies, practices and outcomes. CONCLUSIONS: OER has had moderate but significant success meeting initial expectations for the field. Challenges for the next generation of OER include advancing from hypothesis generation to definitive studies of effectiveness, and acceleration of the process by which findings effect policy, practice, and outcomes.  (+info)