Putting the Evidence to Work for States

Evidence reviews are powerful tools that allow health policymakers to direct resources to certain options that outperform others. Evidence-informed approaches can optimize coverage decisions, increase performance on quality improvement measures, and drive effective responses to major challenges.

One way states are utilizing these evidence-informed approaches is in addressing the opioid crisis. The Agency Medical Directors’ Group (AMDG) first-in-the-nation opioid prescribing guidelines, in conjunction with other state initiatives, resulted in Washington state’s 37 percent sustained decline in opioid overdose deaths between 2008-2014. Now in its third iteration, the AMDG’s Interagency Guideline on Prescribing Opioids for Pain is publicly available. In Oregon, the Health Evidence Review Commission, a pioneering effort launched in 2012 emphasizing stakeholder engagement, produces publicly available coverage guidance to inform decision-making on challenging issues such as elective inductions.

It all starts with a question and a commitment to an evidence-based response. For example: How can rates of follow-up after hospitalization for mental illness be improved? With support from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and in partnership with the Center for Evidence-based Policy, NASHP is currently running a cross-agency learning collaborative with states to help them answer questions like these by finding and critically appraising comparative effectiveness reviews, including patient-centered outcomes research. These states are also working to effectively incorporate consumer voices in policymaking; a process, that when done effectively, can magnify the impact of evidence.

Where is your state or agency in terms of effectively using evidence to guide policymaking? You can consult NASHP’s Roadmap for State Policymakers to Use Comparative Effectiveness and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research to Inform Decision Making to identify your first step or your next step in this process. For more on states that have already charted this course, see our publication Programs Supporting the Use of Comparative Effectiveness Research and Patient-Centered Outcomes Research by State Policymakers.

                       *With thanks to Jane Beyer and Adam Obley at the Center for Evidence-based Policy.