Comparative Effectiveness Research Ramps Up

One of the cornerstones of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the establishment of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization charged with “evaluating and comparing health outcomes and the clinical effectiveness, risks, and benefits of medical treatments, services, procedures, drugs, and other strategies or items that treat, manage, diagnose, or prevent illness or injury.”

This is very similar to the Population Health Impact Institute’s (PHII) mission to promote transparency and accountability for organizations and individuals through its array of accreditation, certification and educational programs.  PHII also is independent, non-profit organization and was founded over 10 years ago. 

In mid-May, PCORI announced it was accepting applications for its second year of research funding initiatives for $81 million. PCORI also indicated in a press statement that it aims to commit at least $355 million in support for patient-centered clinical effectiveness research in 2013.

PCORI’s Executive Director Joe Selby, MD, MPH, said, “We are committed to facilitating a new approach to conducting health and healthcare research, one that focuses on the research questions of most importance to patients and that actively involves patients, clinicians, and other end-users of the research in the way it is conducted.”  

Last year, Dr. Selby spoke at the Case Management Society of America’s annual Public Policy Summit where he provided an overview of PCORI, including the topics and methodology the organization is pursuing. Here is a recap.


The mission of PCORI is to “fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions.”  In line with its patient-centered approach, Dr. Selby emphasized the importance of researchers being able to disseminate the results of PCORI research back to patients. Patients should be at the heart of the research “from planning to publication,” he said, and encouraged patients and other stakeholders to participate as panel reviewers. And with their broad view of the health care system, Brokers also could participate as panel reviewers.   

Research Methodologies

According to Dr. Selby, PCORI is looking to fund research that examines the prognosis or predictions of different types of care, the treatment options available to patients including the benefits and harms of those options, and any behavioral impacts on patients and/or  on health care systems.  He outlined nine criteria used to evaluate research projects:

·   The impact of the research

·   Whether the research will lead to improvements

·   Whether the research is inclusive of different populations

·   Whether the research addresses current gaps in the provision of healthcare

·   The research’s impact on system performance

·   The research’s potential to influence decision making

·   Whether the research is patient-centered

·   Whether the research utilizes rigorous research methods

·   The resources used in performing the research

After evaluating research based on the above criteria, Dr. Selby laid out the research agenda and priorities of PCORI:

·   The assessment of prevention, screening, and treatment options

·   The improvement of health care systems

·   The communication and dissemination of research to patients

·   The fairness and attention to disparities within the health care system

·   Accelerating patient-centered research

With a large budget, Dr. Selby’s task of funding patient-centered research is an extraordinary one.  The research funded by PCORI may lead to significant strides in the delivery and effectiveness of health care.

To learn more about PCORI, click here

Garry Carneal, JD MA, PHII Board Member