May 16, 2019: NIH Collaboratory Investigators Author Recommendations for Responding to Guideline or Policy Changes That Affect Ongoing Pragmatic Trials

A new perspective article by NIH Collaboratory investigators describes the unique, unexpected challenges researchers face when clinical practice guidelines and policies change during the conduct of a pragmatic clinical trial (PCT). The article was published online this week in Clinical Trials.

The NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Projects are PCTs that test interventions to address urgent public health problems. They involve hundreds to thousands of participants and generally include usual care as a control arm. During the course of these years-long trials, clinical practice guidelines and policies changed due to new evidence from observational studies, small trials, and shifting expert opinion. Such changes can have profound effects on usual care and, therefore, threaten the ability of the PCTs to address the questions they were designed to answer. Investigators must strike a balance between the primary ethical obligation to protect patients by adhering to new best-practice guidelines and policy and the secondary, yet crucial, obligation to develop high-quality evidence to improve care.

“PCTs are an important means of producing high-quality evidence needed to better inform clinical practice. However, when guidelines or reimbursement policies change during the conduct of a PCT, the ethical obligation to gather information to develop evidence-based practices may conflict with the primary ethical obligation to participants.” — Curtis et al, Clinical Trials, 2019

Based on their aggregate experience with the NIH Collaboratory, the authors provide broad recommendations and strategies for overcoming these challenges, including protecting the well-being of patients; involving stakeholders, health system leaders, and the entity charged with data and safety monitoring; and actively monitoring changes and site-level responses to them. If changes to the standard of care are merited, investigators should provide equal opportunity and support for the recommended changes. Finally, during the design phase, investigators should communicate with the entities charged with creating guidelines to see what is needed and to anticipate possible future changes.

“The ability to appropriately address the tension between modifications to clinical guidelines and the need to generate quality evidence to support those guidelines is a crucial consideration for the fulfilment of a learning health system.” — Curtis et al, Clinical Trials, 2019

May 8, 2019: Dr. Greg Simon Receives National Suicide Prevention Award

At the Lifesavers Gala in New York last night, Dr. Greg Simon received the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP’s) Research Award for his contributions to suicide prevention. Dr. Simon leads the Suicide Prevention Outreach Trial (SPOT), an NIH Collaboratory Demonstration Project that builds on previous work demonstrating that patients who answer “yes” to thoughts of self-harm on routinely administered PHQ-9 questionnaires at primary care visits are more likely to attempt suicide. For these high-risk patients, SPOT explores different modes of outreach (care management or online skills training versus usual care) to prevent suicide.

“There’s a conspiracy of silence around suicidal thoughts, because it’s awkward to discuss. So we’ve found that we have to incorporate talking about it into our standard care. Our suicide prevention work is a great example of how research and care keep influencing each other to improve our patients’ health. When research springs from clinicians’ and patients’ questions, ‘learning health systems’ can put results into practice much faster than the oft-cited 17-year lag.” — Dr. Greg Simon, from the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Press Release

Dr. Simon and his colleagues are also studying how machine-learning models can be used to predict risk of suicide. The models combine the PHQ-9 mental health questionnaire responses with information from electronic health records, including prior suicide attempts and mental health and substance use diagnoses. In a blog post regarding his research (and recent publication) on machine learning, Dr. Simon compares machine learning to warning lights on cars:

Our paper prompted many questions from clinicians and health system leaders about the practical utility of risk predictions:

“Are machine learning algorithms accurate enough to replace clinicians’ judgment?” our clinical partners asked.

“No,” I answered, “but they are accurate enough to direct clinicians’ attention.”

The AFSP also honored four others, including Anderson Cooper, a CNN and 60-minutes correspondent, and Kate Snow, an NBC news correspondent, for their work raising public awareness of suicide prevention.

Read more about what inspired Dr. Simon to study mental health.

April 18, 2019: New Commentary Highlights Value of Pragmatic Trials for Learning Health Systems

In an eGEMs commentary published this month, Leah Tuzzio and Dr. Eric Larson of the NIH Collaboratory’s Health Care Systems Interactions Core discuss the value and impact of embedded pragmatic clinical trials for learning health systems.

Pragmatic trials embedded in healthcare systems are designed to align with the care delivery goals of the health system to produce better health outcomes. The commentary highlights the NIH Collaboratory’s pragmatic trials as “the best-case examples to learn about the challenges of conducting research and of dissemination, implementation and sustainability of research results in real-world settings.”

Designing and implementing an embedded pragmatic clinical trial “requires a bidirectional flow of information and cooperative problem solving between investigator teams and clinical teams,” an important feature of learning health systems. In implementing the trial, the clinical and research teams not only generate useful data, but also demonstrate how the trial results can be incorporated into evidence-based clinical practice.

The commentary is part of a special collection of eGEMs articles commemorating 25 years of the Health Care Systems Research Network.

eGEMs is AcademyHealth’s peer-reviewed, open-access journal for electronic health data and methods. At AcademyHealth’s 2019 Annual Research Meeting in Washington, DC, the NIH Collaboratory will offer a full-day pre-conference seminar on the essentials of embedded pragmatic clinical trials. Registration for the seminar is open now.

April 12, 2019: Development of Harmonized Outcome Measures for Use in Research and Clinical Practice (Richard Gliklich, MD, Michelle Leavy, MPH, Elise Berliner, PhD)

Speakers

Richard Gliklich, MD
CEO, OM1, Inc.

Michelle B. Leavy, MPH
Head, Healthcare Research and Policy
OM1, Inc.

Elise Berliner, PhD
Director, Technology Assessment Program
Center for Evidence and Practice Improvement (CEPI)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)

Topic

Development of Harmonized Outcome Measures for Use in Research and Clinical Practice

Keywords

Health outcomes; Patient-centered outcomes; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Patient registries; Clinical data; Patient-reported outcomes; Value-based care; Electronic health records; Learning health system; Conceptual framework

Key Points

  • The goal of the Outcome Measures Framework is to create a common conceptual model for classifying the range of outcomes that are relevant to patients and providers across most conditions.
  • Harmonization of outcome measures is essential to comparing and aggregating results between and among registries, clinical research, and quality reporting, and to facilitating performance and value-based measurement.
  • A minimum measure set is the minimum set of harmonized measures that can be captured consistently in research and clinical practice.
  • Developing the framework used a stakeholder-driven process that categorized outcomes as clinical responses, patient-reported, survival, resource utilization, and events of interest for a sample set of 5 clinical areas.

Discussion Themes

The benefits of developing a core set of measures include reduced clinician burden and improved patient care.

How is this work informing the HL7 work group that is defining standards for registries?

Next steps include implementation of the minimum measure sets in EHRs, registries, and other research efforts; demonstrating the value of a minimum measure set; and encouraging adoption of the measures.

Learn more about AHRQ’s Outcome Measures Framework.

Tags

#pctGR, @Collaboratory1, @AHRQNews

January 22, 2019: New Self-Paced ePCT Training Course Available

The NIH Collaboratory is pleased to announce the availability of a new self-paced, 10-module introductory course on how to design, conduct, and disseminate embedded PCTs (ePCTs). This course presents condensed material from the inaugural ePCT Training Workshop held in 2018 and provides users with important things to know and do when designing an ePCT, along with helpful links to additional learning resources within the Living Textbook.

Also available in the Living Textbook are links to videocast workshops hosted by the NIH on a range of ePCT topics including:

  • Embedded PCTs of therapeutic A versus B interventions
  • Unique opportunities for disseminating, implementing, and sustaining evidence-based practices into clinical care
  • Ethical and regulatory issues of PCTs

For these and other ePCT resources, visit the Training Resources webpage.

December 7, 2018: Cluster Randomized Trials in Health Care Delivery Systems: Lessons from STIC2IT (Niteesh K. Choudhry, MD, PhD)

Speaker

Niteesh K. Choudhry, MD, PhD
Professor, Harvard Medical School
Executive Director, Center for Healthcare Delivery Sciences, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Topic

Cluster Randomized Trials in Health Care Delivery Systems: Lessons from STIC2IT

Keywords

STIC2IT; Pragmatic clinical trial; Learning health system; Cluster randomization; Medication adherence; Telepharmacy; Electronic health record; Stakeholder engagement

Key Points

  • STIC2IT, a pragmatic, cluster-randomized trial, evaluated a telepharmacy intervention to improve medication adherence for people with chronic diseases.
  • Pragmatic aspects of STIC2IT included outcomes assessed using routinely collected data, cluster randomization by physician practice, intention-to-treat analysis, and use of the EHR to collect research data.
  •  While medication adherence did improve in the STIC2IT intervention group, secondary clinical outcomes did not improve. Future trials within health systems should incorporate multilevel engagement across the health system, physicians and staff, and patients.

Discussion Themes

It is important to do ongoing outreach at the health system leadership level to ensure understanding and commitment to the study and keep providers aware of the trial. Study teams should be mindful of the priorities of their partner health system.

Using the EHR for research data required some upfront work building special modules and generating custom reports.

For more information on conducting PCTs in health delivery systems, visit the Living Textbook chapter on engaging stakeholders and building partnerships.

Tags

@Collaboratory1, #pctGR, #HarvardMed, #telepharmacy

November 16, 2018: Primary Palliative Care for Emergency Medicine (PRIM-ER) (Corita Grudzen, MD, MSHS)

Speaker

Corita R. Grudzen, MD, MSHS, FACEP
Vice Chair for Research
Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Population Health
Ronald O. Perelman Department of Emergency Medicine
NYU School of Medicine

Topic

Primary Palliative Care for Emergency Medicine (PRIM-ER)

Keywords

PRIM-ER; Emergency department; Palliative care; Demonstration project; Pragmatic trial; Stepped-wedge study design; Clinical decision support; Best practice alerts; Advance care planning

Key Point

  • The PRIM-ER trial is a pragmatic, cluster-randomized, stepped wedge Demonstration Project that will implement primary palliative care in emergency medicine across a diverse group of 35 emergency departments (EDs).
  • PRIM-ER’s clinical decision support intervention is tailored to each ED site. The study aims to enable system, organizational, and provider change in the emergency department workflow.
  • The study team is identifying and preparing site champions by conducting communication skills training in serious illness for emergency physicians and staff using the EM Talk program.

Discussion Themes

It is important to consider sustainability of the intervention during the planning phase of the trial. Plan for staff turnover and how new staff will be educated and oriented to the intervention.

The volume and sophistication of best practice alerts (BPAs) received by physicians varies across U.S. emergency departments. Alert “fatigue” can be a concern.

For more information on the PRIM-ER Demonstration Project, visit the PRIM-ER website on the Living Textbook.

Tags

@Collaboratory1, #pctGR, #EmergencyMedicine

November 13, 2018: Summary of Workshop on Pragmatic Trials of Therapeutic A vs B Interventions Now Available

The NIH Collaboratory recently convened a workshop to explore embedded pragmatic clinical trials comparing two or more therapeutic medical interventions. These “A vs B” trials are meant to test existing, viable treatment alternatives where there is uncertainty about which treatment is best in which populations. There are unique barriers that make these types of pragmatic trials especially challenging to implement. For the workshop, a panel of experts gathered to discuss challenges and solutions regarding partnering with healthcare systems to conduct the trials, unique legal and ethical issues, and design and operational considerations. The summary of the workshop is now available: Workshop Summary: Embedded Pragmatic Clinical Trials of Therapeutic A vs. B Interventions

 

Additional Resources:

Embedded pragmatic clinical trials of therapeutic A vs. B interventions workshop videocast.

 

October 12, 2018: MDEpiNet RAPID and SPEED Projects: Leveraging Real World Evidence to Get Better, Faster, Cheaper Medical Devices for Physicians and Patients (Renee Mitchell, MT, CLS, Terrie Reed, MSIE, Roseann White, MA)

Speakers

Renee Mitchell, MT(ASCP), CLS(NCA)
Regulatory Affairs
Boston Scientific Corporation, Inc.

Terrie Reed, MSIE
Senior Advisor for UDI Adoption
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Roseann White, MA
Director of Innovative Clinical Trial Statistics
Duke Clinical Research Institute

Topic

MDEpiNet RAPID and SPEED Projects: Leveraging Real World Evidence to Get Better, Faster, Cheaper Medical Devices for Physicians and Patients

Keywords

Medical devices; Real-world evidence; Medical Device Epidemiology Network; MDEpiNet; Unique device identifier; UDI

Key Points

  • In partnership, clinicians, device developers, and FDA can benefit from the use of real-world evidence on medical devices:
    •  Clinicians can contribute to the generation of real-world evidence.
    •  Device manufacturers can use real-world evidence to evaluate and release new devices and expand indications.
    •  Regulatory bodies can increase the use of patient-level data for device approval.
  • Unique device identifiers (UDIs) make it possible to follow medical devices longitudinally, advancing the quality of real-world evidence and allowing more sophisticated analyses.

Discussion Themes

The vision for the future is that registries will transform into big data solutions using multiple sources and will be more robustly integrated with electronic health records (EHRs). Both EHRs and registries will play a role.

More organizations as partners brings greater diversity, advancing better data and results. When stakeholders work together, learning curves can be accelerated toward a transformational approach to real-world evidence.

Tags

#MedicalDevices, #pctGR, @PCTGrandRounds, @Collaboratory1, @MDEpiNet_ppp

August 13, 2018: JAMA Commentary Highlights the Value of Data Enclaves and Distributed Data Networks

In a JAMA Viewpoint published online last week, NIH Collaboratory investigator Dr. Richard Platt and colleague Dr. Tracy Lieu discuss the value of “data enclaves” to facilitate information sharing in support of research, quality improvement, and public health reporting.

Creating data enclaves allows health systems to share useful information from their clinical data without releasing the actual data. Data enclaves can be linked with each other in distributed data networks to create powerful resources for researchers and other analysts. The authors note that efforts to realize this vision must address concerns about protecting patients’ personal information, the costs and work required to make the data usable for analysis, and incentives for health systems to participate.

Dr. Platt is a cochair of the NIH Collaboratory’s Distributed Research Network, which uses a common data model that enables investigators to collaborate with each other in the use of electronic health data while safeguarding protected health information and proprietary data.