Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER)

Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) compares available treatment options utilizing a range of research methods including randomized controlled trials, observational studies, and systematic reviews, a structured assessment of evidence available from multiple primary studies. The foundation for CER is evidence-based medicine, which is a systematic approach to clinical problem solving which allows the integration of the best available research evidence with clinical expertise and patient values. In the health care reform law, the “Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act of 2010,” CER is positioned to support the development of comparative evidence that will better inform health care decision-making; however, many questions remain about how the new law will be implemented. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided $1.1 billion in new public funds for CER and set in motion a series of activities including the development of federal priorities for CER and efforts to enhance the nation’s research infrastructure to conduct CER in “real world” settings. To help manage and augment the new public focus on CER, the 2010 health care reform law creates the non-profit Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) that is not an agency of government, but rather an independent organization with a multi-stakeholder Board of Governors and sustained public-private funding for CER that will reach nearly $650 million by 2014. (See Legislative Proposals for further details). Moving forward, It is critical to establish the right guiding principles that will be used by decision-makers in determining CER priorities, which can play a critical role in improving patient health outcomes in the future. Ultimately, it is the patients who will benefit under a healthcare system where sound evidence is recognized by independent experts, considered appropriately by plans, reflected adequately in benefit design, and incorporated into clinical decision-making. For more information, visit