Comparative effectiveness research winning hearts and minds but not moving mountains

There is no shortage of buy-in on the concept of comparative effectiveness research (CER) as promoted by HHS’s Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) in the Affordable Care Act era, but the assent isn’t translating into impact, according to a study in the February edition of the Journal of Comparative Effectiveness Research.

In research sponsored by the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC), Kimberly D. Westrich, MA, of that organization and Claudia Schur, PhD, of the health-research firm Social & Scientific Systems analyzed the results of five annual NPC surveys sent to CER-targeted decisionmakers and stakeholders.

They found high awareness of, and good familiarity with, CER.

The stakeholders also indicated their “sustained perception” of its importance, according to the authors’ executive summary.

But that’s about as far as things go—so far, at least.

Westrich and Shur found:

  • Although most CER stakeholders believe CER will have a positive impact, they report little impact in the recent past and see little in the short-term future.
  • In each of the five consecutive surveys, stakeholders indicated that substantial CER impact is at least three to five years in the future.
  • Stakeholders appreciate the growing significance of the role of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) in establishing research standards and funding and monitoring CER, but they expect AHRQ, PCORI and the NIH—over and above academia, private health plans and industry—to take the lead role in translating and disseminating research.

The recent surge in CER activity, which owes in no small part to the Affordable Care Act’s establishment of PCORI, “will add to the evidence base, but significant barriers to effective use of this evidence will remain without improved efforts to translate and disseminate findings,” the authors write.

“Stakeholders will realize greater impact from CER,” they conclude, “only if new efforts provide information that is readily available and can be applied within their healthcare systems to real-world decisions in specific patient populations.”

The full research report is posted online.