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A photo of PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH, for the Leadership Perspective

Our nation continues to face urgent health and health care challenges, including rising rates of chronic disease and mental health issues, the crisis of substance use, insufficient access to care, economic burdens, and persistent health inequities among communities historically underserved by our health care system.

With a clear, patient-centered mission and strategy, PCORI is uniquely positioned to help address these challenges, as the leading funder of comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) in the United States. Our strategy, grounded in five long-range goals, advances our mission through a holistic approach that includes stakeholder engagement, dissemination and implementation of research results, and investments in patient-centered research infrastructure. It also includes taking a broader view of all the influences on a person’s health, including the social, cultural and environmental factors present where people live, learn, work and play.

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Through this strategy, we have further strengthened our commitment, in 2023 and beyond, to funding research that can inform a more patient-centered system of health. We believe this research will help address the systemic, root causes of inequities in our system of health, revamp the nation’s research infrastructure to make it more responsive and inclusive, and develop and communicate trustworthy scientific information to help people make informed decisions about their health and health care.

We recognize we cannot achieve this vision alone. We need to build partnerships beyond the clinical realm, including in such areas as housing, nutrition, education and transportation. We aim to champion the integration of community partners into research, to better understand the conditions affecting people’s lives. We must continue to elevate the role of dissemination and implementation to ensure that research results make it into the hands of people who can use them to make informed decisions about their health.

Guiding many of our funding decisions now are our Topic Themes, aligned with our National Priorities for Health and with stakeholder input received through a number of channels, which speak to health issues facing large numbers of people in the United States and address some of the most urgent conditions facing the nation.

Our strategy, grounded in five long-range goals, advances our mission through a holistic approach that includes stakeholder engagement, dissemination and implementation of research results, and investments in patient-centered research infrastructure.

Many other promising and innovative projects are underway, several of which provide new opportunities for funding in addition to our more established funding opportunities. To highlight just a few:

  • The Partner PFA, a key component of our health equity agenda and drive to enhance the participation of community organizations in research, positions community organizations to be full partners alongside research organizations, in projects focusing on multicomponent interventions that address both health conditions and social determinants of health to improve maternal health outcomes.
  • In a related vein, the Building Capacity for Small Organizations to Engage in PCOR/CER funding opportunity aims to help patients and other stakeholders build partnerships and capacity to plan, conduct, share and use patient-centered CER. Building this capacity in these organizations can leverage their deep knowledge of their communities and help them participate as partners in clinical research.
  • An increasing focus of our work in the coming years will be on broadening the universe of researchable patient-centered outcomes to include patient-centered economic outcomes, including the burdens and economic impacts patients incur from seeking treatment, such as out-of-pocket costs, child care and time missed from work. We are also seeking to better understand diverse viewpoints around what constitutes patient-centered value in health and health care. The recent publication of a Landscape Review and Summary of Patient and Stakeholder Perspectives on Value in Health and Health Care, which distilled 48 attributes of value in health and health care from perspectives provided by a wide range of stakeholders, is one resource that will inform our ongoing work.

We aim to champion the integration of community partners into research, to better understand the conditions affecting people's lives.

Additional notable efforts to advance our strategy include:

  • The groundbreaking Health Systems Implementation Initiative, in which 42 selected systems, collectively representing 800 hospitals serving nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, will build and leverage their institutional capacity to implement evidence into care delivery workflows to improve health outcomes.
  • The Science of Engagement initiative, designed to bring a more systematic and rigorous approach to understanding, and measuring, what works and what does not in stakeholder engagement in health research.
  • The Learning Health System partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which will develop scientists to conduct patient-centered CER to accelerate progress toward an integrated learning health system, building and diversifying this critical research workforce nationwide.

You will hear much more about these initiatives as they unfold over time. Through projects like these, we look forward to engaging with people and communities across the nation and working together toward a more equitable, efficient and accessible system of health.

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