KP Research Collaboration Now an Evidence-based Practice Center

New EPC Wins 3-year Contract to Conduct Evidence Reviews for the US Preventive Services Task Force

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 17, 2012 – A new research collaboration led by Kaiser Permanente has received a prestigious designation from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to serve of as one of the nation’s 11 Evidence-based Practice Centers (EPCs). The EPCs produce evidence reviews on behalf of programs such as AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program (EHC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The new collaboration, called Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates, involves nearly 80 researchers from three integrated health care delivery systems, including Kaiser Permanente, Group Health, and HealthPartners. All three organizations are members of the national HMO Research Network. Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates is headquartered in Portland, Oregon at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research and directed by Evelyn P. Whitlock, MD, MPH, who has more than 15 years of experience in evidence-based medicine.

“Our new partnership with Group Health Research Institute and HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research brings together researchers with diverse expertise who are embedded in large integrated health care delivery systems,” says Whitlock, who is a senior investigator and director of evidence-based medicine with the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research. “This allows us to involve important multi-disciplinary professionals, tapping into clinical, organizational, behavioral, and policy perspectives. These strengths will help us to ask and answer research questions that are especially meaningful to clinicians, as well as health systems, and those they directly serve, including patients and caregivers.”

"We at Group Health Research Institute are very excited to be a part of this unique EPC,” says Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, executive director at Group Health Research Institute, in Seattle. “By working with researchers and stakeholders who are close to the needs of care systems of all sizes, we hope to be able to translate the results of our systematic reviews into practice more quickly than ever."

“No health care provider or health system can single-handedly sort through the vast medical literature in order to make well-informed decisions on a broad range of quality improvement opportunities,” says Michael Maciosek, PhD, senior research investigator at the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, Minneapolis, MN. “The EPCs have provided this tremendous service to clinicians and health systems over the years, and it is an honor to be invited by AHRQ to join this effort.”

The new Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates EPC has access to researchers from Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Georgia, Colorado, Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Many of these researchers are physicians who see patients and work in the health care delivery system. They offer significant systematic review and related experience in preventive services, primary care, genomic testing evaluation, behavioral interventions, statistical modeling, methods development, aging, disparities and care delivery.

The goal of AHRQ’s Effective Health Care Program evidence reviews is to help patients, physicians, and policymakers make better decisions about screening and treatment for a variety of health conditions. These evidence reviews draw on completed scientific studies to compare the harms and benefits of different healthcare interventions. They also show where more research is needed. Topics are typically nominated through a public process by non-federal partners such as professional societies, health plans, insurers, employers, and patient groups. The reviews are used by national and state agencies, private sector professional societies, health delivery systems, providers, payers, and others committed to evidence-based health care.

The other 10 EPCs are:
  • BlueCross BlueShield Association, Chicago
  • Brown University, Providence, R.I.
  • ECRI Institute, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
  • Oregon Health & Science University
  • RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif.
  • RTI International, Research Triangle Park, N.C.
  • The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore
  • University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.

Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates will begin its work by conducting 15 comprehensive evidence reviews for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force— an independent group of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve the health of all Americans by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services. These recommendations inform prevention for a variety of conditions including cancer, obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, osteoporosis, mental health and support healthy aging.

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