Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER)

Comparative effectiveness research or CER is research that compares treatment choices. Which medication will work better for my disease, drug X or drug Y? What are the side effects? Patients often times have very little evidence-based information when faced with a choice between different treatments for their condition. As a result patients are forced to rely on their physician’s opinion and experience using a particular medication.

Why is CER important to patients?

Suppose your coffee pot broke and you need to replace it. You can fill libraries with easy to find and easy to understand information comparing different models of coffee pots. What are your needs (desired outcomes) in a coffee pot? Do you want something that keeps coffee piping hot? Do you need to brew many cups at a time or single-serve? How quickly do you want the coffee to brew? Are you a connoisseur and want highest quality no matter how long it takes? The consumer has access to a wealth of information needed to select their choice. In the health care world of selecting a coffee pot, the patient would only be able to ask their doctor for advice on which coffee pot to select. What if what’s important to your doctor in a coffee pot is not important to you? Why is there so much information available in selecting something as trivial as a coffee pot and nothing available when making the choice on which medication to use?

How will PCORnet improve the nation’s ability to do CER?

Suppose you are a researcher and would like to compare 2 lupus treatments. How will you find the patients to ask if they would like to participate in the study? Using PCORnet, you will be able to run a search of identity-protected data to find the patients you are looking for.