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Kaiser-Led Network Looks to Improve Outcomes

January 13, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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A new contract of nearly $7 million will take advantage of Kaiser Permanente’s IT proficiency in healthcare research to build a data network aimed at improving patient outcomes in colorectal cancer, heart disease and obesity.

The Kaiser Permanente-led clinical data research network is one of 29 individual network projects that were approved for a total of $93.5 million from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) on Dec. 17, 2013 to form PCORnet: the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network, a new resource that aims to boost the efficiency of health research.

The new network—Kaiser Permanente & Strategic Partners Patient Outcomes Research To Advance Learning, known as PORTAL—brings together four  healthcare delivery systems (Kaiser Permanente, Group Health Cooperative, HealthPartners and Denver Health), the 11 research centers affiliated with these systems, and patients, clinicians and operational leaders to develop the infrastructure necessary to conduct comparative effectiveness research, Kaiser officials say.

PORTAL is led by principal investigator Elizabeth McGlynn, Ph.D., director of Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Effectiveness & Safety Research, and co-principal investigator Tracy Lieu, M.D., director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s Division of Research. The network will develop data systems necessary to conduct studies with patients in three areas: colorectal cancer, severe congenital heart disease and obesity.

PCORI envisions the new overarching network to be a secure, national data network that improves the speed, efficiency and use of patient-centered comparative effectiveness research. By enhancing the ability to leverage data available in the 29 individual networks, PCORnet aims to make it easier and faster to conduct comparative effectiveness research on large, nationally representative samples of patients using a variety of research designs.

During the next 18 months, the Kaiser Permanente-led team will use the PCORI funds to expand and improve its research systems, continue work on standardizing its data for research, and participate in developing policies for the national network that govern data sharing and security and protection of patient privacy. It also will refine PORTAL’s capacity to engage and recruit patients and other stakeholders interested in participating in research, including clinical trials, Kaiser officials say.

Kaiser Permanente was selected through a review process in which patients, caregivers and other stakeholders joined scientists to evaluate the proposals. Applications were assessed for the capacity of their network to collect complete, comprehensive clinical data, how well they will engage patients and other stakeholders, and their ability to maintain data security and patient privacy, among other criteria.




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