Tracking Progress Toward Our Strategic Goals

March 11, 2014 by Joe Selby, MD, MPH

Joe Selby headshotLike many large organizations with challenging and complex missions, we at PCORI are guided in our work by a strategic plan, a roadmap to fulfilling our mandate to fund and disseminate comparative effectiveness research that results in better-informed health and healthcare decisions, improved care, and better outcomes.

Last fall, I told you in detail about this plan and the three overarching goals that it features. Now, I’d like to tell you about a new tool we have to help us gauge and report to our Board of Governors—and to you—how well we’re doing against our goals. This tool is the PCORI Dashboard, which is updated quarterly and shows our concrete objectives, current and planned initiatives, and specific budget allocations.

We presented our most recent dashboard and supporting information during our January 28 Board of Governors webinar. We’ll provide an update at our May Board meeting, and every quarter from that point on, so that everyone with an interest in our work can see how well we’re doing.

Taking a Tour

In looking at the dashboard, one thing that might strike you is the extensive array of information. Admittedly, there’s a lot to follow, but that just reflects the diversity of our funding initiatives and the mechanisms we’re employing to meet our three strategic goals. The breadth of our work is a direct response to our mandate—to produce new comparative clinical effectiveness research and develop the methodological, infrastructure, and dissemination strategies that will help patients and those who care for them make better-informed health and healthcare decisions.

The dashboard provides quick measures of our activity and our impact, with color codes indicating whether an item is on track (green), somewhat off track but on its way back to where it should be (yellow), or in need of some serious attention (red).

The upper portion of the dashboard provides some key top-level measures. In the upper right, for example, we detail the funds committed for external research. In the upper left, you’ll see how we’re tracking how well we’re doing with some of our communications efforts.

The lower portion of the dashboard tracks progress against specific annual goals. At left, we follow how well we’re doing in establishing our multi-stakeholder advisory panels , which help us prioritize topics for potential research funding as well as provide general scientific and patient engagement guidance.

PCORI's Dashboard Click to enlarge

PCORI’s Dashboard
Click to enlarge

The box just to the right shows our progress in funding such targeted research, and the next box shows our success in attracting applications and making awards through broad PCORI Funding Announcements (PFAs) that support studies on investigator-initiated topics. We also document, through a resubmission metric, our effort to work with researchers to see that their proposals meet our high standards for patient-centeredness and scientific validity, even if they fall short the first time they submit an application to us. We know that the criteria we use to evaluate proposals differ from those of most other funders, so we do what we can to help researchers better understand our approach.  And, in fact, we find resubmitted applications have a higher rate of success than the general application pool.

Trends in LOIs, Applications, and Awards<br /><em>Click to enlarge</em>

Trends in LOIs, Applications, and Awards
Click to enlarge

Focus on Engagement

Other areas of the dashboard document our engagement efforts as we seek to build a robust, skilled, and diverse community of stakeholders eager to participate in patient-centered outcomes research. We’ve provided training to our advisory panelists, merit reviewers, and mentors, and launched two specific funding initiatives to support our engagement efforts—our Pipeline to Proposal awards and our patient-researcher matching challenge. We plan additional engagement-related awards this year.

Our dashboard is just one of several ways in which we’re seeking to gauge how well we’re doing in reaching our goals, and doing so in the spirit of transparency expected of us as a publicly supported research institution. We also have established the PCORI Evaluation Group (PEG), a task force that will advise us on how best to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of our work—from the usefulness of the studies we fund, to the extent to which the findings from these studies affect health decisions. We’ll regularly report on the development and progress of our evaluation activities early this year, adding another opportunity to be a learning institute responsive to stakeholder feedback.

I hope you’ll take a moment to review the dashboard to see how PCORI is performing and tell us what you think at We are always eager to read your comments.

Selby is PCORI’s Executive Director

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