Health care provider Kaiser Permanente has been awarded a contract of nearly $7 million to take advantage of the company’s expertise in health care research to build a data network aimed at improving patient outcomes in colorectal cancer, heart disease and obesity.
The Patient Outcomes Research To Advance Learning, known as PORTAL, is a network that brings together four health care 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.
PORTAL is led by principal investigator Elizabeth McGlynn, PhD, director of Kaiser Permanente's Center for Effectiveness & Safety Research, and co-principal investigator Tracy Lieu, MD, director of Kaiser Permanente Northern California's Division of Research.
The 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) in December to form PCORnet, a resource that aims to boost the efficiency of health research.
The network will develop data systems necessary to conduct studies with patients in three areas: colorectal cancer, severe congenital heart disease and obesity.
"The PCORI award represents an important next step in the 20-year journey of Kaiser Permanente and its partners to realize the vision of becoming learning health care organizations, that is, to be able to ask and answer the questions that are important to our members and their clinicians," McGlynn said in a statement. "We are excited to be part of this national initiative and believe it will ultimately translate into better care for our members and for patients nationally."
During the next 18 months, the 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.
The Kaiser Permanente-led team also will refine PORTAL's capacity to engage and recruit patients and other stakeholders interested in participating in research, including clinical trials.
"PCORnet presents a terrific opportunity to further develop Kaiser Permanente's vision of using computerized data to help patients achieve better health," Dr. Lieu, co-principal investigator of PORTAL, said in a statement. "This vision was first described more than 50 years ago by Morrie Collen, the founding director of our research program. We have world-class leaders in research in the three focus areas for our network — colorectal cancer, heart disease and obesity — and this is a great chance for us to transform health care through patient engagement."