PCORI board signs off on $142.5M investment to scale up health data network

PCORI Director Rachael Fleurence

The board of governors at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has signed off on an $142.5 million investment in PCORnet, an attempt to mine ever-growing repositories of health and clinical data for research.

PCORI has ponied up the $142.5 million to enable the second phase of PCORnet, in which it will add 7 more individual health data networks to its ranks. The expansion brings the total number of health data networks in PCORnet up to 34, giving the researchers who are working with the resource a deeper and wider pool of information to mine. PCORI is hoping this interconnected repository of data, which it is pulling from healthcare systems, patient networks and other sources, will cut the time and money it takes to run comparative-effectiveness studies.

"Our main goal for the next three years is to sharply ramp up PCORnet's capacity to serve as the platform for rapidly and efficiently conducting high-quality, patient-centered studies," Rachael Fleurence, director of PCORI's comparative effectiveness research methods and infrastructure program, said in a statement. The types of investigations envisaged by PCORI run the gamut, with randomized, observational and rapid-cycle studies all on the horizon. Standardized datasets are central to the research plans.

PCORI's approach to standardization is based on the Mini-Sentinel Common Data Model, a way of working established by the FDA-sponsored active surveillance pilot project. In the case of PCORnet, the approach is intended to ensure interoperability with data standards, even as they evolve. Such flexibility will be needed if PCORI is to fulfil its vision of creating a research network that draws on information held in from electronic health records, patient-generated results, claims data and other sources.

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