As PCORI’s portfolio of patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness (CER) research projects grows, we carefully consider how to see that our funding has the greatest impact. We know we must spend our research dollars wisely and pave the way for the findings to be useful to patients, caregivers, clinicians, and others in the healthcare community. And we hope to see that the work we do will influence others to make clinical research more patient-centered.
To promote those goals, we are launching a series of what we’re calling Evidence to Action Networks (E2ANs), which will promote information sharing among awardee teams working on related projects and also establish links between those teams and those who may find the results helpful in making health and healthcare decisions.
This model fits perfectly with our overall approach to research. We believe that we can lay the groundwork for effective dissemination even before there are any results if we involve in the research process from the get-go those we hope will be end-users of the findings. These include patients, caregivers, clinicians, insurance companies and other payers, employers and other healthcare purchasers, professional societies, policy makers, and training institutions.
PCORI-funded research teams must include patients and other healthcare stakeholders as well as scientists, and our E2ANs are designed to facilitate sharing of knowledge among all members of those teams. The E2ANs will also let PCORI staff and research teams with shared interests identify key stakeholders not directly involved in the study, solicit input from them, prepare them for the release of research findings, and eventually share evidence with them.
Asthma Projects Lead the Way
The idea of the E2ANs arose as we developed our first topic-specific PCORI Funding Announcement (PFA). In December 2013, PCORI funded eight CER projects to improve patient-centered outcomes among African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos with uncontrolled asthma. We sought patient-centered CER that tests interventions—enhancing clinician-patient communication, systems of care, and/or care integration—to improve clinician and patient adherence to national evidence-based guidelines. (See a related video about these projects).
We were interested in fostering collaboration and learning among the eight asthma projects and promoting engagement between the awardees and those who potentially will make use of the study results. The asthma research project teams also expressed a need to be in touch with each other to exchange ideas and discuss challenges. The teams already have shared their engagement plans and identified both some successes and areas where they would like more assistance. Additionally, some teams using similar interventions are discussing aligning their research protocols and capturing similar patient-centered outcomes. This would allow these teams to aggregate research findings to obtain stronger evidence.
We realized it would be beneficial for this discussion to go beyond a typical learning community of awardee teams. We recognized that broader interactions could provide additional insight into the type of evidence or information end-users need to make informed decisions.
Our first E2AN will focus on projects that address asthma. We have selected Abt Associates to support this E2AN, and its first task will be to survey the eight asthma-PFA awardee teams, as well as teams from other PCORI-funded projects focusing on asthma, to determine their needs and potential for information exchange and collaboration. We will use the results of the survey to implement the Asthma E2AN.
Other Evidence to Action Networks to Follow
Of course, the value of such discussion isn’t limited to our asthma projects. Other PCORI awardees have expressed interest in working collaboratively with teams focusing on similar topics, conditions, interventions, or methods and with potential end-users.
So, we plan to create E2ANs in other areas. Development of these forums will take advantage of what we learn from the experiences of the Asthma E2AN, as well as the PCORI Dissemination and Action Plan that we are developing and projects funded by our Communication and Dissemination Research program.
PCORI has identified three contractors—AcademyHealth and Westat, as well as Abt Associates—to support our future E2ANs.
If you are interested in receiving periodic information about the E2ANs generally or would like to be engaged as potential end-user for the Asthma E2AN, let us know.
Anise is a Program Officer in PCORI’s Addressing Disparities program
Lewis is a Program Associate in PCORI’s Addressing Disparities program