The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) was established by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to promote comparative effectiveness research (CER) to assist patients, clinicians, purchasers, and policy-makers in making informed health decisions by advancing the quality and relevance of evidence concerning the manner in which diseases, disorders, and other health conditions can effectively and appropriately be prevented, diagnosed, treated, monitored, and managed through research and evidence synthesis.
The development of PCORI is vested in the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The framework of CER and PCORI describes multiple elements which are vested in all 3 regulations including stakeholder involvement, public participation, and open transparent decision-making process. Overall, PCORI is much more elaborate with significant involvement of stakeholders, transparency, public participation, and open decision-making. However, there are multiple issues concerning the operation of such agencies in the United States including the predecessor of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research (AHCPR), AHRQ Effectiveness Health Care programs, and others.
The CER in the United States may be described at cross-roads or at the beginnings of a scientific era of CER and evidence-based medicine (EBM). However the United States suffers as other countries, including the United Kingdom with its National Health Services (NHS) and National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), with major misunderstandings of methodology, an inordinate focus on methodological assessment, lack of understanding of the study design (placebo versus active control), lack of involvement of clinicians, and misinterpretation of the evidence which continues to be disseminated.
Consequently, PCORI and CER have been described as government-driven solutions without following the principles of EBM with an extensive focus on costs rather than quality. It also has been stated that the central planning which has been described for PCORI and CER, a term devised to be acceptable, will be used by third party payors to override the physicianís best medical judgement and patientís best interest. Further, stakeholders in PCORI are not scientists, are not balanced, and will set an agenda with an ultimate problem of comparative effectiveness and PCORI that it is not based on medical science, but rather on political science and not even under congressional authority, leading to unprecedented negative changes to health care. Thus, PCORI is operating in an ad hoc manner that is incompatible with the principles of evidence-based practice.
This manuscript describes the framework of PCORI, and the role of CER and its impact on interventional pain management.