The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), set up under the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to fund comparative-effectiveness research (CER) on healthcare options, is awarding up to US$68 million to support the development of a national patient-centered clinical research network.

The funding, announced at a PCORI roundtable discussion on building a national data infrastructure to advance CER, will go to new or existing Clinical Data Research Networks (CDRNs) and Patient-Powered Research Networks (PPRNs) across the US.

Specifically, successful applicants from up to eight CDRNs will get up to US$56 million to develop capacity for randomised comparative-effectiveness studies using data from clinical practice in large, defined populations.

Up to $12 million will go to 18 new or existing PPRNs to support their “progression toward a reusable, scalable, and sustainable research network”.

Efficient and effective

Together these initiatives can unite patients, researchers and healthcare systems in supporting efficient and effective observational and interventional studies with active participation from broad patient populations, PCORI believes.

The awards are being made under one of PCORI’s five National Priorities for Research, ‘Accelerating Patient-Centered and Methodological Research’.

The Institute expects health systems, clinicians and patients to play key roles in determining the direction and uses of the supported networks, while patients’ interests should be “central to decision-making about the network’s structure, function and uses”, it emphasises.

Over time, PCORI envisages, the PPRNs and CDRNs will become more integrated as patients are engaged within multiple healthcare systems and richer clinical data are obtained on patients receiving care outside the participating systems.

“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,” commented PCORI executive director Dr Joe Selby.

“A national data-rich infrastructure that advances high-quality, efficient CER will benefit all Americans,” he added.

A funding announcement on an associated Coordinating Center, which will provide management support for collaborative projects, technical resources, meetings support and programme evaluation, will be made later this spring.

Letters of intent from applicants for the network funding are due by 19 June and applications by 27 September 2013.