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AHRQ--Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: Advancing Excellence in Health Care

Topic Suggestion Description

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View Topic Suggestion Disposition (PDF) 52 kB

Date submitted: February 27, 2012

Briefly describe a specific question, or set of related questions, about a health care test or treatment that this program should consider.
Which interventions are effective in decreasing heart failure readmissions?
Does your question include a comparison of different health care approaches? (If no, your topic will still be considered.)
If yes, explain the specific technologies, devices, drugs, or interventions you would like to see compared:
Including but not limited to increased length of inpatient stay, earlier outpatient follow up, disease management strategies (e.g. medication reconciliation, home health visits, remote monitoring, etc.)
What patients or group(s) of patients does your question apply to? (Please include specific details such as age range, gender, coexisting diagnoses, and indications for therapy.)
All patients with an index hospitalization for heart failure
Are there subgroups of patients that your question might apply to? (For example, an ethnic group, stage or severity of a disease.)
Older patients (aged 65 years or greater), patients with more severe symptoms (i.e. New York Heart Association class III-IV symptoms), heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction
Describe the health-related benefits you are interested in. (For example, improvements in patient symptoms or problems from treatment or diagnosis.)
All patient-related benefits, including but not limited to: reduction in all-cause hospitalizations and HF hospitalizations, improvement in quality of life (using Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire or Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire)
Describe any health-related risks, side effects, or harms that you are concerned about.
All patient-related harms, including but not limited to mortality

Appropriateness for EHC Program

Does your question include a health care drug, intervention, device, or technology available (or likely to be available) in the U.S.?
Which priority area(s) and population(s) does this topic apply to? (check all that apply)
EHC Priority Conditions (updated in 2008)
  • Cardiovascular disease, including stroke and hypertension
AHRQ Priority Populations
  • Minority groups
  • Women
  • Elderly
  • Individuals with special health care needs, including individuals with disabilities or who need chronic care or end-of-life health care
Federal Health Care Program
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare


Describe why this topic is important.
Heart failure is the leading cause of rehospitalizations among elderly Americans, and inpatient care costs for acute decompensated heart failure cost over $20 billion in 2009. Several strategies have been proposed to reduce readmission rates for heart failure, but none that have clearly demonstrated efficacy in randomized clinical trials. Nevertheless, several strategies are being employed (e.g. earlier post-discharge follow up, traditional disease management with a case manager or nurse) while several new offerings in remote monitoring are now being marketed. Without randomized data, payers and providers are unclear which solutions are effective and justify investment. Systematic reviews have been performed in specific areas (e.g. Cochrane review on remote monitoring) but there has not been a comprehensive overview of the effectiveness of all strategies available.
What specifically motivated you to ask this question? (For example, you are developing a clinical guideline, working with a policy with large uncertainty about the appropriate approach, costly intervention, new research you have read, items in the media you may have seen, a clinical practice dilemma you know of, etc.)
This topic was ranked as a priority by a panel of stakeholders convened through the Duke EPC’s Cardiovascular Topic Identification project to recommend a research agenda for future systematic reviews within the EHC cardiovascular domain.
Does your question represent uncertainty for clinicians and/or policy-makers? (For example, variations in clinical care, controversy in what constitutes appropriate clinical care, or a policy decision.)
If yes, please explain:
Stakeholders considered uncertainty for clinicians and/or policy-makers as part of the ranking process, and with that criterion considered, this topic received a priority designation.

Potential Impact

How will an answer to your research question be used or help inform decisions for you or your group?
This topic was identified by a group of stakeholders in cardiovascular disease as an area in which significant morbidity, mortality, and/or variation in resource utilization persists, and future systematic review development should be prioritized. Answers to this question are expected to inform practice and guideline development, and ultimately improve the quality of care by reducing morbidity, mortality, and costs.
Describe the timeframe in which an answer to your question is needed.
Though no specific timeframe is applicable, this topic was identified by the stakeholder group as immediately relevant.
Describe any health disparities, inequities, or impact on vulnerable populations your question applies to.
Stakeholders considered variation in clinical practice and inequities in care as part of the ranking process, and with that criterion considered, this topic received a priority designation.

Nominator Information

Other Information About You: (optional)
Please choose a description that best describes your role or perspective: (you may select more than one category if appropriate)
  • Other
Are you making a suggestion as an individual or on behalf of an organization?
Organization - Duke University Evidence-based Practice Center
Please tell us how you heard about the Effective Health Care Program
Involvement in the Evidence-based Practice Center Program