About the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs)
Since 1992, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has funded studies focused on patient outcomes associated with pharmaceutical therapy. These studies have addressed many important questions regarding the management of drug prescribing. The concept of the Centers for Education and Research on Therapeutics (CERTs) grew out of the recognition that, while pharmaceuticals and other medical products improve the lives of many patients, underuse, overuse, adverse events, and medical errors may cause serious impairment to patient health.
Today, the CERTs program conducts research and provides education to advance the optimal use of therapeutics (i.e., drugs, medical devices, and biological products) in order to address the limited comparative information on the risks, benefits, and interactions of new and older agents and to provide guidance to health professionals on the appropriate and cost-effective use of therapeutics.
The CERTs program is funded and run as a cooperative agreement by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).The program receives funds from both public and private sources, with AHRQ providing core financial support. The research conducted by the CERTs has three major aims:
- To increase awareness of both the uses and risks of new drugs and drug combinations, biological products, and devices, as well as of mechanisms to improve their safe and effective use.
- To provide clinical information to patients and consumers; health care providers; pharmacists, pharmacy benefit managers, and purchasers; health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and health care delivery systems; insurers; and government agencies.
- To improve quality while reducing cost of care by increasing the appropriate use of drugs, biological products, and devices and by preventing their adverse effects and consequences of these effects (such as unnecessary hospitalizations).
The CERTs program consists of six research centers, a Scientific Forum, a Steering Committee, and numerous partnerships with public and private organizations to ensure that its results are applicable in "real world" settings. These partnerships also allow each center to expand the number of its projects and extend their potential impact. Each center broadly focuses on a unique therapeutic theme that is chosen based on a demonstrated need for improved clinical practice or implementation in that area.
- Brigham and Women's Hospital— Research emphasis: Implementation and evaluation of health information technologies
- Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center — Research emphasis: Improvements in pediatric therapeutics
- Duke University Medical Center — Research emphasis: Improvements in therapies for disorders of the heart and blood vessels
- Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey — Research emphasis: Improvements in the use of mental health therapeutics and outcomes in at-risk populations including children, the elderly, and the mentally ill
- University of Alabama at Birmingham — Research emphasis: Improvements in the safety and effectiveness of musculoskeletal therapeutics; increased education and public health awareness of issues relating to musculoskeletal therapeutics
- University of Illinois-Chicago — Research emphasis: Development of tools for optimizing medication prescribing
AHRQ's Center for Outcomes and Evidence oversees the CERTs program and provides technical assistance and research support.