Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > Looking to Change US Approach to Comparative Effectiveness Research, PCORI Staffs Advisory Panels

Looking to Change US Approach to Comparative Effectiveness Research, PCORI Staffs Advisory Panels

Posted 27 March 2013 | By Louise Zornoza

The US Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute's (PCORI) Board of Governors announced on 26 March 2013 that it had selected 84 people to serve on its first four advisory panels, staffing the agency with crucial experts it will need in its attempts to re-define how patients are treated in the US.

PCORI was founded by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), better known as Obamacare. The legislation called for an entity that could, somewhat like the US Preventative Services Task Force, issue treatment recommendations based on comparative effectiveness research. The agency is notably banned from issuing formal recommendations or assessing quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), though the hope is that doctors will be able to leverage its research to make informed choices.

The agency has several advisory panels dealing with Patient Engagement, Assessment of Prevention, Diagnosis, and Treatment Options, Improving Healthcare Systems, and Addressing Disparities, on which the 84 new members appointed by PCORI will serve. In a statement the group said the members represent different sectors of the healthcare community and bring a broad range of expertise to the table.

"Our advisory panels will help us identify and prioritize the questions that are important to patients, caregivers clinicians and others, and also help us evaluate all of our research programs," said  Anne Beal, PCORI's deputy executive director, chief officer for engagement and COO.  "The individuals we've invited to serve are representative of our diverse stakeholder community. Each contributes valuable perspectives and expertise to advance our mission to fund research that provides patients and those who care for them the information they need to make better-informed decisions."

The task of each of the respective panels is to advise PCORI on research questions for possible funding and how to ensure that the institute's work remains patient-centered. The Patient Engagement panel, for instance, is designed to advise PCORI on ways it can maintain its patient-centered focus in all aspects of its work. Patients make up 60% of the members of that panel. The other three panels correspond to three of PCORI's National Priorities for Research, and will help it identify and prioritize research questions in their respective areas. 

PCORI said it received 1,295 applications, from 1,021 individuals, for panel membership (some people applied to be on more than one panel). Advisory panel members are appointed for a one-year term, and can be re-appointed for a maximum of two terms. PCORI's authorizing legislation states that advisory panels must include patients, clinicians, researchers, experts in health services delivery and evidence-based medicine who have experience in a relevant topic, as well as industry representatives as appropriate.  The Institute plans to establish additional advisory panels as needed, including panels for Randomized Controlled Trials and Rare Diseases.

Charters for the existing panels are available on the PCORI website.

Members of the four new panels will convene for their first panel meetings and orientation in Alexandria, Va., on 19-20 April 2013.

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