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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 3: Selected Players (Federal and Private) (Page 15 of 27)

ECRI

Snapshot of ECRI home page. Click to visit the site. Close the open window to return to this page.

ECRI (http://www.ecri.org/) is an independent, nonprofit health services research agency that works to improve the quality, safety, and cost-effectiveness of patient care.

It provides a wide range of services dealing with healthcare technology, including research, evaluation, assessment, publications, and databases. Other areas of interest include: healthcare risk and quality management, and healthcare environmental management.

ECRI started in 1955 as the Graduate Pain Research Foundation studying neurological problems. In 1968, its name was changed to the Emergency Care Research Institute. As of the early 1970s, it uses the acronym ECRI as its name.

Health Technology Assessment Information Service

Formally established in 1991, the ECRI Health Technology Assessment Information Service (HTAIS) is a comprehensive service that offers in-depth custom reports, database searches, regular newsletters, published summaries, educational seminars, and a telephone hotline. It is a membership program that maintains a comprehensive International Health Technology Assessment database of citations and abstracts covering the peer-reviewed literature, as well as proprietary documents, technical reports, newsletters, and other sources (the "gray" literature) from around the world. Access is unlimited to members.

The service helps managed care organizations and third-party payers make coverage decisions; it helps hospitals and other healthcare providers decide what services to offer; and helps clinical specialty organizations to develop objective practice guidelines.

HTAIS provides a high level of research and analytical expertise on topics such as: new drugs, new uses for established drugs, emerging diagnostic and surgical procedures, new medical devices, alternatives to standard therapies, and new perspectives on established technologies.

There are two levels of membership to the service--custom membership and executive membership. ECRI is also an AHCPR Evidence-Based Practice Center and has been awarded a contract to provide technical assistance for AHCPR's National Guideline Clearinghouse initiative.

Also of interest to those working in the area of new technologies is the TARGET Database. This database is "a recent addition to the pool of online technology assessment resources available through HTAIS. TARGET offers electronic access to pertinent information on the newest devices, drugs, and procedures, including many that are still in varying stages of development, including clinical trial, premarket approval, or recent approval." View a sample TARGET report here or examine a list of current topics.

Notification Services

Keep current with ECRI's work by visiting its News Releases page and for alerts about hazard and recalls the Alerts Tracker is valuable.

Discussion Questions

  1. Would ECRI be a good place to find information on new medical technologies or services? How can you tell from looking at the site?
  2. The FAQ provides a list of target audiences for the answers to the questions posed by these audiences. Does the FAQ clarify the kinds of information ECRI provides and what you can reasonably expect from them should you become a member? Is it worth becoming a member?
  3. ECRI sponsors conferences and workshops. Who among your clients would be most interested in attending these?
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