“It’s a multi-stakeholder board,” she says. “There are four or five MDs, but there are also representatives of patient groups, leaders from the pharmaceutical and the insurance industries, and people from all corners of medicine and healthcare.”
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Explore This IssueApril 2011
Instead of having a panel of experts develop purely scientific solutions and then hope everyone accepts them, she says, “the idea is to define priorities across multiple stakeholders so that we have buy-in across the broader community with respect to our strategy moving forward. I really bought into that notion.”
Dr. Gabriel describes herself as “a passionate advocate and a driving force for patient-oriented clinical research.”
As a rheumatologist, Dr. Gabriel believes that her selection to lead the Methodology Committee will have the benefit of bringing added attention to her field. However, she says, the benefits flow both ways.
She suspects that one reason she was named to the committee is that she brings a chronic disease perspective. “We in rheumatology understand disabilities and the impact they have on the quality of life, and we come at it from the perspective of a chronic disease,” she says. “Rheumatoid arthritis is the most prevalent and most disabling of chronic diseases.” Also, rheumatology has done a good job of building consensus around quality measures and translating research into practice improvements, she notes.
Learn as We Go
It will be some time before the impact of PCORI is known. Currently, mounting congressional opposition to the overall healthcare reform program raises the threat of reduced funding for aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, PCORI was not on the list of five areas of mandatory spending that the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health was seeking to eliminate from the act at press time, according to a March 7, 2011, majority staff memo.
Even if the institute’s funding is not cut, PCORI and its Methodological Committee have just begun to chart their course. “It’s all pretty uncertain. But I think that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t want to be stepping into a role that is too tightly prescribed. We’ll learn as we go, and that’s the right way to do it,” Dr. Gabriel says.
David H. Kirkwood is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City.