Comparative effectiveness' $9M boost

PCORI awards research contract to Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute
By Bernie Monegain
02:54 PM
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The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Board of Governors selected a consortium led by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute to serve as the coordinating center for a new national data network designed to enhance the nation's ability to conduct patient-centered comparative effectiveness research.

The $9 million Harvard Pilgrim proposal, approved during a special board webinar/teleconference, was one of eight PCORI received in response to a June request for proposals. All were assessed based on scientific and technical merit and detailed cost analyses. Three finalists were interviewed by PCORI staff before Harvard Pilgrim was judged to have the strongest proposal.

[See also: PCORI to democratize research.]

The Coordinating Center will provide technical and logistical support to the proposed new National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network. The initiative's goal is to improve the nation's capacity to conduct CER efficiently and learn from the healthcare experiences of millions of Americans by creating a large network of health data representative of patients from across the country.

PCORI committed $68 million in April to develop the national data network through the creation or expansion of up to eight health system-based Clinical Data Research Networks and up to 18 Patient-Powered Research Networks organized by groups of patients interested in participating in clinical research. Groups invited to submit proposals through the institute's competitive application process have until Friday, Sept. 27, to submit them. Awardees will be announced in December.

The Coordinating Center will assist the two networks with technical and logistical support and play a critical role in fostering communication and coordination among them as well as disseminating best practices. It will also support program evaluation.

[See also: UCLA wins $1.6M PCORI award.]

"We had several compelling proposals to consider but in the end, the Harvard Pilgrim team's proposal stood out as the strongest, with an impressive track record of relevant experience and high-caliber expertise," Rachael Fleurence, director of PCORI's CER Methods and Infrastructure Program, said in a news release. "We believe they will provide effective coordination to ensure the success of the new National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network.”

The Harvard Pilgrim team includes experts in data standards, data security and privacy, medical ethics, patient-reported outcomes, project management, and research communications and dissemination. It has a history of managing and coordinating similar initiatives, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Mini Sentinel Program and the National Institutes of Health's Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory.

The directors of the Coordinating Center will be Richard Platt, MD, professor and chair of the Harvard Medical School Department of Population Medicine at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston, and Robert Califf, MD, vice chancellor for clinical and translational research, director of the Duke Translational Medicine Institute, and professor of Medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Additional expertise is provided by staff from AcademyHealth, Brookings Institution, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Medical Technology Policy, Group Health Research Institute and Johns Hopkins University. In addition, America's Health Insurance Plans, the national trade group representing the health insurance industry, will support stakeholder engagement and RAND Corporation will lead external evaluation efforts.