Editor’s note: For more on PCORI and comparative effectiveness research, see the October 2012 issue of Health Affairs,”Current Challenges In Comparative Effectiveness Research.”

Earlier this year, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) satisfied one of its foundational requirements mandated in the Affordable Care Act. With public input, we established national research priorities to guide our work and support our mission of improving health by producing trustworthy information that will help patients make better-informed decisions about their care.

We are implementing those priorities through an ambitious research agenda, expecting to commit up to $96 million in contracts by the end of the year in response to funding announcements we issued in May. That’s on top of $31 million in funding we announced this past spring for our Pilot Projects Program.

Complementing that work, we are engaged with patients and the entire healthcare community to select specific research topics for targeted funding announcements. In particular, we are focused on conditions that occur frequently and impose heavy burdens on patients and their families, where outcomes can be substantially improved through new research.

In the spirit of our inclusive approach to research, we are inviting patients and the entire medical community to play a significant role in this effort. Our collaborative process for selecting research topics will be on display December 4-5 when we host two workshops specifically designed to solicit input from health care stakeholders on the topics we should study, and how we can transparently determine which of those topics are of the highest priority.

Today, December 4, we are holding a workshop called “What Should PCORI Study? A Call for Topics from Patients and Stakeholders.” The event will solicit recommendations from a diverse group of healthcare stakeholders for specific topics to consider for funding, along with feedback on PCORI’s plans for engaging stakeholders in the research process.

Tomorrow, December 5, we are hosting the “PCORI Research Prioritization Methods Workshop.” During this event, research methodologists, patients and other stakeholders will share best practices for prioritizing research topics and help us refine our own proposed prioritization process to see that it addresses the needs of patients and those who care for them.

Registration for these events is now closed, but free live and archived webcasts will be available to the public at the links above. Questions and comments may be submitted to getinvolved@pcori.org.

Including patients and those who care for them in the process of generating and prioritizing research topics is a unique approach with a very clear intention. We believe that if patients, their clinicians, and other stakeholders are partners in conducting research, the results will be better tailored to their needs and more likely to become adopted quickly into everyday practice.

We often hear that it takes an astounding 17 years for medical research to be fully incorporated into practice. By funding research on topics that are particularly important and relevant to the healthcare community, and accelerating the adoption of that research through effective dissemination efforts, we can provide patients and those who care for them with better information that will lead to better outcomes.

We believe that our approach has enormous potential, but it only works if we succeed in obtaining meaningful contributions from patients and stakeholders like you. Our workshops are just the beginning of our effort to receive your input, and we hope you will participate in future opportunities to play a role in this important work. I encourage you to visit our website to learn more about the many opportunities to help guide PCORI’s development as a national research institute.

With your help, we can improve the quality of information we use to make critical healthcare decisions and achieve better health for all of us.