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HHS Awards $17 Million For Patient-Centered Research

Health IT will support studies that determine the most effective treatments and improve the nation's health, says Department of Health and Human Services.

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The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded nearly $17 million to establish a network of patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) centers that will be supported by health IT, including electronic health record (EHR) and data management systems.

Funding for PCOR, or research that compares treatments and strategies to improve health outcomes for patients, have been made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

According to an HHS announcement issued September 1, the money will enable PCOR in pediatric emergency medicine and support capacity building for community-based providers to engage in this type of research.

"Patient-centered outcomes research can improve health outcomes by developing and disseminating evidence-based information to patients, providers, and decision-makers about the effectiveness of different treatments," HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, said in a statement.

In a statement, HRSA administrator Mary Wakefield said the funds will boost investments in health IT to support the PCOR effort.

"These funds allow us to invest in robust systems and infrastructure to bring patient-centered research knowledge into everyday clinical decision-making for the diverse and vulnerable populations that HRSA serves, and that are often under-represented in this kind of research," Wakefield said.

Five cooperative agreement awards will go to organizations in four states to create the Community Health Applied Research Network (CHARN) to demonstrate that safety net providers and academic institutions can partner together to create an effective infrastructure that supports PCOR. This network in particular will provide an opportunity to evaluate PCOR among diverse populations and patient subgroups that are not always adequately represented in similar studies.

The CHARN consists of a central data management coordinating center, based at the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals' Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., and four networks selected as research "nodes" in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Oregon. The nodes are geographically dispersed consortia of safety net providers in 17 states.

Three of the four research nodes will focus on PCOR related to the delivery of primary care, while the fourth (in Boston), will focus more specifically on research that is relevant to the care and treatment of individuals with HIV/AIDS.

Another grant totaling $3.5 million will be awarded to Columbia University to support PCOR within the Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN). The funds will help boost data capacity, conduct studies, and disseminate information on research findings involving pediatric emergency care.

Separately, a grant totaling $3.5 million will be made to the American Academy of Pediatrics to support development of an EHR sub-network within the Pediatric Research Network in the Office Setting, the nation's largest pediatric primary care research network. The results from this work will be used to inform guidelines and policies of pediatric practice.

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