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Leveraging PCORI Resources for More Robust Health Services Research: Takeaways from AcademyHealth’s Organizational Briefing with PCORI Executive Director Nakela Cook

PCORI has awarded over $3 billion since 2010. In a recent organizational briefing, Director Cook discussed funding priorities going forward and how researchers can take advantage of PCORI resources.

AcademyHealth welcomed Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Executive Director Nakela Cook for a conversation exclusively with our organizational members on July 19, 2023. PCORI is the leading funder of patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER). Since it was first authorized in 2010, PCORI has awarded over $3 billion to support almost 2,000 studies. The moderator for this event was AcademyHealth member Dr. Melinda Buntin, who is creating a new Center for Health Systems and Policy Modeling at Johns Hopkins University.

Comparative clinical effectiveness work compares the benefits and harms of two different methods of preventing, diagnosing, treating, or monitoring a health condition or improving care delivery in real-world populations. As an independent non-profit research institute, PCORI primarily supports clinical effectiveness research, but it also funds projects to disseminate and implement research and improve methodology. PCORI has a unique focus on engaging patients and stakeholders throughout the research process, from research question formulation to dissemination and implementation. PCORI tries to understand the implications of interventions on different populations by encouraging contract recipients to describe results on the subgroup level. Through this work, PCORI strives to help patients, providers, and others make better informed health care decisions.

The discussion during the organizational briefing centered on how researchers can leverage PCORI resources to promote evidence generation, dissemination, and application. Here are four key takeaways from the conversation with Director Cook, Dr. Buntin, and AcademyHealth members:

  1. PCORI takes a holistic approach to generating and promoting patient-centered evidence. It looks at all influences on patient health, including the social determinants of health. Its national prioritiesfunding of comparative effectiveness research (CER), stakeholder engagement, dissemination and implementation of research results, and investment in CER infrastructurecenter around creating a stronger overall system of health.
  2. PCORI’s funding priorities guide its work. It plans to focus on high-burden, high-impact conditions, including COVID-19, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities, among others. It will continue to grow its work on preventative measures, especially concerning children and youth, maternal health, and rare diseases. PCORI aims to collect data on the costs and economic burdens of health conditions like out-of-pocket costs, childcare, and stress. It, however, does not support economic analyses that consider the cost-effectiveness of alternative approaches to providing care.
  3. Creating strong partnerships with patients, providers, and other groups in the health care field is essential to generating usable research and achieving health equity. Reciprocal relationships and co-learning are critical to understanding the lived experiences of patients and building trust with diverse communities. It’s never too late in the research process to create meaningful partnerships with patients, communities, and stakeholders. PCORI encourages these types of collaborations by requiring applicants to submit engagement plans, providing access to dedicated staff who can support research teams in developing these plans, and creating online resources and tools.
  4. PCORI tools can make research faster and easier. Resources, like the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet), can provide access to data from a network of forty participating health systems. PCORnet enables researchers to access standardized large-scale, multi-site data. Researchers can use PCORnet Front Door to learn more about whether this resource aligns with their needs.

Dr. Cook’s remarks helped attendees understand how they can use PCORI tools to make evidence accessible to patients, providers, and other stakeholders and improve decision-making. Through briefings like these, AcademyHealth aims to connect organizational members to resources that can guide and support their work and enable more robust health services research. For more information about how to become an organizational member and attend public policy and advocacy briefings like this, please click here.

Radhika Purandare bio

Radhika Purandare

M.P.H. Candidate - Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

Radhika Purandare is AcademyHealth's Summer 2023 Health Policy Fellow. She is a Master of Public Health (M.P.H... Read Bio

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