Let me begin with a few words about where AHRQ fits within the Department of Health and Human Services. The basic and biomedical research supported by the NIH serves as the foundation for many of the advances in the prevention, diagnosis, and management of disease and impairment. Its work greatly expands the realm of possible public health and clinical interventions. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) takes the lead on public health, community-based interventions often led by State and local health departments, or public service media campaigns to improve health, AHRQ focuses on the role of clinical care and the health care delivery system.
AHRQ's mission is to improve the effectiveness, quality, safety, and efficiency of health care services that patients receive. What is unique about our mission is that it encompasses both the evaluation of the effectiveness and quality of clinical services and the most effective and efficient ways to organize, manage, and safely deliver those services. As the Institute of Medicine report To Err Is Human made clear, this dual focus—on services and systems—is critical to improving health care.
AHRQ contributes to efforts to speed the diffusion of effective medical breakthroughs. Our research can extend the findings of biomedical research to populations not included in clinical trials, evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions to determine which populations benefit most, and develop effective strategies to facilitate their rapid adoption. We also facilitate adoption of new knowledge by putting into perspective the available scientific evidence so that clinicians can better assess the importance of recent breakthroughs.