PCORI’s Strategic Plan: Setting the Framework for Success

November 29, 2013 by Joe Selby, MD, MPH

Dr. Joe SelbyPCORI’s authorizing legislation gave us a challenging mandate and a distinctive name. Funding and disseminating research that results in better-informed health decisions, improved care, and better outcomes is a broad and complex mission.

Since its first meeting in late 2010, our Board of Governors has worked, in collaboration with PCORI’s Methodology Committee and staff, to create an organization that can meet this mandate, live up to its name, and be the best stewards possible of the resources entrusted to us. In so doing, we articulated a mission and vision that recognized engagement—involving patients and other healthcare stakeholders in all of our research activities—as a fundamental approach for making our studies more useful and ensuring that results are disseminated and implemented into practice.

Now, we have a focused roadmap to further guide our efforts – PCORI’s strategic plan, approved by our Board at its Board’s recent meeting in Atlanta. The plan provides the framework for our activities over the next several years to fulfill our mandate. It provides a clear description of the path we will take to deliver on the promise of patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research.

Our Overarching Goals

Strategic Plan Document ThumbnailOur strategic plan identifies three primary goals that we must achieve to realize our mission and vision:

  • Substantially increase the quantity, quality, and timeliness of useful, trustworthy information available to support health decisions;
  • Speed the implementation and use of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) evidence; and
  • Influence clinical and healthcare research funded by others to be more patient-centered.

All PCORI activities align with one or more of these goals. In my view, they carry several important messages: We focus all our efforts on producing research that is useful in making health and healthcare decisions; we recognize the importance of dissemination if research findings are to be useful and implemented; and because we can never do all of the patient-centered research that is needed, we must show others that our approach is effective in leading to implementation of findings.

We are already making substantive progress toward each of our overarching goals. We have funded 197 research projects totaling more than $273.5 million to increase the quantity of high-quality information available. We are laying the groundwork for speedy implementation by engaging the entire healthcare community along the way, so that when results are available, stakeholders will understand and trust the information and be ready to share it with relevant patient populations and the clinical communities that serve them. And we’re helping to shape the future of research through our focus on engagement and by developing consensus methodological standards for scientifically sound, patient-centered studies.

It’s important to note that our goals are self-reinforcing—our work to achieve one goal will often support progress in the others. As we continue to engage the healthcare community in building a robust research portfolio, the research we fund will become increasingly tailored to the questions faced in real-world settings. And, as researchers develop proposals that meet our methods standards, there is a greater likelihood of those standards influencing others in the research community.

Our Strategic Imperatives

The plan identifies five broad areas, or strategic imperatives, which organize all our activities and lead directly toward achieving our broad goals.

  • Engagement: Engage patients, caregivers, and all other stakeholders in our entire research process, from topic generation to dissemination and implementation of results.
  • Methods: Develop and promote rigorous PCOR methods, standards, and best practices.
  • Research: Fund a comprehensive agenda of high-quality PCOR and evaluate its impact.
  • Dissemination: Disseminate patient-centered outcomes research to all stakeholders and support its uptake and implementation.
  • Infrastructure: Promote and facilitate the development of a sustainable infrastructure for conducting patient-centered outcomes research more efficiently, frequently, and in closer relationship to the healthcare delivery systems where decisions are implemented.

Our plan provides a framework that ties together all of the activities we’d plan to pursue in each of these areas to one or more of our goals. It provides a timeline for those activities and a set of intermediate outputs and milestones that we will report to our Board and the public as we pursue these initiatives.

The plan also serves to focus us on critical strategic questions we must answer if we are to implement it effectively. What is the right mix between broad and targeted funding of studies? How do we evaluate whether our core commitment to engagement leads to more useful research findings that have a major impact? What is the appropriate relationship between dissemination and implementation activities? Over the coming months, our Board will address these questions in its public meetings.

Our Core Values

Although we are mainly responsible to patients and those who care for them, we also are accountable to the broader public that supports our work through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund. Our strategic plan sets forth five core values to which we aim to adhere as good stewards of the resources provided to us. These values are patient-centeredness, usefulness, transparency, inclusiveness, and evidence (relying on the best available science).

These core values reflect our ideals and permeate every aspect of our work, weaving through and connecting the various elements of the strategic plan. Keeping faith with these values will both enhance our ability to achieve our goals and ensure that we are maintaining the public’s trust.

PCORI’s Board will review and update the strategic plan annually in public discussions. Meanwhile, we invite you to study the strategic plan and provide us with your feedback at any time. If you have questions or suggestions, if you think we missed something, or if you think we got it just right, please let us know. You can share your thoughts with us by email at info@pcori.org.


Selby is PCORI’s Executive Director

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