Comparative effectiveness research improves outcomes, Kaiser finds

The national Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) can look to Kaiser Permanente to see how comparative effectiveness research can enhance healthcare.

Kaiser has researched the comparative effectiveness of different treatments and therapies for decades, the San Jose Mercury News reports, basing treatment options in part on which produce better outcomes.

While critics have worried comparative effectiveness research could lead to healthcare rationing, with less-expensive treatments favored over more effective but more expensive options, Kaiser has found cost and effectiveness don't always go together, the article notes.

The article includes the example of a man who learned he had colon cancer from a simple, mail-in stool sample test.

After investing millions of dollars in sigmoidoscopies in the mid-90s, Kaiser research later found a new low-cost stool test that identified more cancers and polyps with fewer false positives than older versions of the test. Screening rates jumped from below 45 percent to 85 percent after Kaiser made the new tests widely available to its members, identifying cancer among 331 of the 340,000 stool tests taken among Northern California members in 2011, according to Mercury News.

Clinical effectiveness research (CER) "can play a significant role in improving the volume and usability of information available to patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other key stakeholders across the healthcare community," PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, M.D., said in an announcement this spring. "A national data-rich infrastructure that advances high-quality, efficient CER will benefit all Americans."

In April, the institute announced up to $68 million in funding to finance development of clinical data research networks (CDRNs) and patient-powered research networks (PPRNs) as part of a national data infrastructure to advance comparative clinical effectiveness research.

For more:
- read the Mercury News article
- here's the PCORI announcement