We look back at 2012 as a year of significant progress in advancing our goal of “research done differently.” As a result, we enter 2013 with a solid set of research priorities and an associated research agenda, a growing community of passionate patient and other stakeholder partners, new standards for research methods, and more than $300 million available over the next 12 months to fund patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research.
These milestones, along with a growing staff of talented professionals, position us well to make major strides in funding research that will provide patients and those who care for them the information they need to make better-informed health and health care decisions.
We know that, for all the work we’ve done and momentum we’ve gained, we have a big task ahead. Changing research practice, after all, is very difficult. It requires significant changes in research-related culture, and attitudes. It requires new knowledge and skills. It requires changing of some incentives for researchers, and changes in the way many stakeholder groups interact and collaborate. In 2013, we hope to contribute to making some of these changes a reality.
For example, we know solid methods are the foundation of solid research. So this will be the year we start promoting adherence to, and ongoing refinement of, the initial set of patient-centered outcomes research methods standards drafted by our Methodology Committee and adopted by our Board of Governors. But mere publication of these standards won’t change practice; we need to seek the active participation and help of the entire healthcare community in this effort. You’ll be hearing much more about how we plan to promote their implementation – and how much we hope we can count on your help.
We realized a major milestone just as 2012 was ending – completing our first primary funding cycle in response to the initial broad funding announcements in four of our five research priority areas. This year, we’ll continue to release these funding announcements every 4 months, which will dramatically increase the support available for studies in each area. We also will proceed with two rounds of funding under our fifth priority on the methods of patient-centered outcomes research.
This also will be the year in which PCORI begins to focus on specific research topics. We are building the infrastructure, in the form of multi-stakeholder Advisory Panels, to efficiently review research ideas proposed by any stakeholder and build a focused research agenda for each of our priorities. This approach embodies PCORI’s first principle of including patients and other stakeholders in all aspects of the research process. We are extremely excited to get this infrastructure in place and functioning. We invite you to watch closely over the next two months as we announce the formation of these panels and invite interested stakeholders to invite to join a panel.
As we move ahead with our funding, our selection criteria for both the broad and targeted research announcements will remain tightly focused on our patient-centered mission. Research contracts will be awarded only to projects that hold the promise of changing practice, effectively engage patients and the community in all aspects of the research process, and address questions that matter to patients.
We’re hopeful that our distinctive approach will produce research findings that will meaningfully improve patient outcomes. But we understand that these requirements might mean some researchers will have to adjust the way they think about their work in seeking funding from us. We’re keen on working with the entire research community – seasoned professionals, new investigators, and the stakeholders with whom they will partner – to help everyone better understand our programmatic goals and our unique funding criteria.
Because we view engagement as key to seeing that the work we fund is most meaningful to patients and those who care for them, we have big plans for enhancing our already robust engagement efforts this year. These ideas are listed in the table below:
Details on these and other engagement opportunities will be posted in the Get Involved section of pcori.org.
This also will be the year where we put increasing emphasis on one of the particular core responsibilities outlined in our authorizing legislation — dissemination of research findings. Throughout the year, we’ll focus on building networks and communities through engagement to be well-equipped, trusted and eager receptors of and conduits for PCORI-generated research. Good research takes time to complete, but it’s only valuable if it is widely used and leads to more effective care. That’s one outcome we take especially seriously.
If our list of 2013 resolutions is long and ambitious, it’s because we understand the urgency felt by patients, those who care for them and the healthcare community broadly, to have access to better information to support clinical decisions. PCORI was created to help fill the gap in our understanding of which prevention, treatment and care options will result in the best outcomes for patients and, in so doing, improve the health and healthcare experience of millions of Americans.
The key to our success in this New Year is the same as it has been since we were established — our ability to solicit and incorporate perspectives from the entire healthcare community as we advance and refine our work.
Our growth and accomplishments in 2012 are a direct reflection of that support, and that’s why we’re so optimistic about our future. I and many of my staff are often overwhelmed by the commitment, energy and passion you have displayed in your interactions with us, whether at our Board meetings, workshops, in formal public comments, routine e-mail messages, blog posts or Twitter discussions.
Thank you for your input and support. I hope you’re as excited as I am to continue working toward our shared goal of improving patient outcomes through scientifically rigorous, patient-centered research. And as always, I welcome your comments about our work.
Joe Selby, MD, MPH is PCORI’s Executive Director
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