Improvements needed in dissemination of clinical effectiveness research

While the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has made some progress in disseminating comparative effectiveness research (CER) as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, it needs to do more, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.

The report noted AHRQ has created tools to organize and disseminate research findings, but it has not established clear time frames for implementation or distributed information and tools to certain stakeholder groups specified in the law.

"While [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] has multiple, ongoing efforts to meets its requirements under [ACA] related to CER, it has not determined how it will fully address some of these requirements, particularly those related to dissemination and data capacity building," the report says.

It stresses that timely distribution of research findings is imperative, given the time it takes for that information to be integrated into healthcare practice.

And while HHS has coordinated various agencies to build data capacity for CER, its approach is not effective because it lacks defined objectives, milestones and time frames, the report's authors add.

Better timing and coordination are necessary to prevent duplication and effective use of resources in working together with other projects such as the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) PCORnet initiative.

The GAO recommendations include completing plans to develop a publicly available database.

PCORI, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, in December began taking applications for Phase II funding totaling up to $150.7 million in its bid to build a "network of networks" for comparative effectiveness research.

It announced $93.5 million in funding in December 2013 to support 29 clinical research data networks. Its board of governors in August approved $54 million in research projects, including building data registries that preserve patient privacy and improving methods for linking secondary data sources.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)