Funding “knowledge gaps” and increasing patient involvement top concerns

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The field of comparative effectiveness research, which aims to determine the most effective medical treatments, has drawn criticism from those who believe that it will lead to health care rationing. Now, the nongovernmental board created by the health care reform law to oversee comparative effectiveness research funding— The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)—has released a draft research agenda that bypasses controversy by focusing on broad priorities rather than on specific diseases or treatments.

Arnold Epstein, chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health and a PCORI board member, told Kaiser Health News that the panel will fund research that sheds light on areas where “there are knowledge gaps.” Epstein said as well that PCORI hopes to improve the communication of research findings. “We hope that over time we’ll be able to demonstrate that we’ve provided information that helps patients and doctors make decisions,” he said. The draft agenda is open for public comment through March 15.