Making a Powerful Connection: the Health of the Public and the National Information Infrastructure. 7.2.3 Agency for Health Care Policy and Research


AHCPR is working to develop uniform, accurate, and automated patient care data as part of its research activities in medical treatment effectiveness, practice guideline development and evaluation, clinical performance measures, medical review criteria, and clinical decision support systems. The Agency is also pursuing various avenues for electronic dissemination of health information to ensure fast and cost-effective availability to large audiences.

A full-text retrieval system, developed with the NLM, provides thousands of users each month with electronic access to guidelines by modem or the Internet. A prototype CD-ROM developed for medical libraries includes all versions of the 15 clinical practice guidelines released to date. The Information Resources Center for health services research, which is part of the national network of libraries of medicine, handles queries online.

AHCPR also works with the National Technical Information Service to make information available in electronic form. These activities include the development of an electronic bulletin board that has become the gateway to FEDWORLD and provides a bibliographic database of AHCPR-funded studies. National health survey data is available to users through a variety of data products (magnetic tape, PC diskettes, and CD-ROM).

AHCPR has partnered with managed care organizations and professional associations to incorporate clinical practice guidelines in various computer information systems, online retrieval services, and CD-ROM products for health care providers. Consumer health information is available through electronic kiosk projects and online information services.