19 February 2013
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Patient-Centered Outcomes: Putting the Patient in the Picture

The patient holds the center piece of the health care puzzle – which is a big change from a few decades ago, when the system and doctors held all the cards. Today, patients have a bigger role in the decision-making process and also a bigger responsibility for the choices they make: from prevention through diagnosis and recovery.  

The U.S. Congress – in a move proving how serious it is about patient-centered outcomes – authorized funding for research in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA will fund more than $3 billion in research between now and 2019. To be in the running for this funding, research will need to be relevant to patients, their caregivers, and clinicians. In short, says the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (the group implementing the ACA), this act “aspires to transform applied medical research by more fully integrating the persons who will use the research into the research process.” 

What This Means for Patients

To get the ball rolling, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute just funded 50 pilot projects. Each of these funded projects involves patients as partners and not just participants in the research. This is a complete paradigm shift from patients merely serving as observed subjects to now being engaged in the research design.  

To give you an idea of patient-centered outcomes research, consider the following example of a pilot project that the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has funded. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital received funding for a study to examine primary medication non-adherence. Primary medication non-adherence occurs when a patient fails to fill an initial prescription; it occurs in as many as 28 percent of new medications prescribed by physicians. 

The Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers plan to reframe the time surrounding a new prescription as a collaborative discussion between the patient, physician, and pharmacist. The key step here will be addressing social and cultural concerns of the patient that might otherwise serve as a barrier to adherence. Through shared medical decision making, this study aims to develop a patient-centered decision support tool for primary adherence and make this tool freely available to all.  

While it will certainly be interesting to see what adherence tool this example study might develop, here at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy, we are already partnering with our patients every day. We engage them as active participants in the treatment process.  

We have a partnership between our pharmacy, each patient, and the prescribing physician. This is what we mean by “patient-centered” care – a method BioPlus has held as a core mission since our founding 23 years ago. Even so, we welcome other stakeholders in the health care industry getting more involved in patient-centered care, as well. The upcoming projects from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Instituteare sure to enhance outcomes for patients and the industry as a whole. And that is a very good thing.

Krumholz HM, Selby JV. Seeing through the eyes of patients: The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute funding announcements. Ann Intern Med July, 31 2012.
Gabriel SE, Normand ST. Getting the methods might — The foundation of patient-centered outcomes research. N Engl J Med 2012; 367:787-90.
List of the 50 pilot project funded by PCORI: http://www.pcori.org/assets/ABSTRACTS_BY_STATE.pdf

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