January 16, 2020: NIH Collaboratory Investigators Describe Key Elements of Successful Distributed Research Networks

Members of the NIH Collaboratory Distributed Research Network (DRN) have helped build DRNs for the Sentinel System, the NIH Collaboratory, and the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet). In a new article published online in Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications, they describe the key elements of successful DRNs, as well as methods, challenges, and solutions encountered in using DRNs to support different phases of randomized, multisite clinical research.

“…[DRNs] are a vital component for trials that use real-world data to generate real-world evidence. Given their access to larger and more diverse populations, as well as health systems with a variety of care practices, DRN-based trials have the potential to produce more generalized results.” —Marsolo et al. 2020

DRNs enable the use of real-world data by repurposing electronic health record (EHR) and claims data for research. However, the use of these data to create evidence is “complicated by lack of uniformity in data collection, a fragmented healthcare system, and the imperative to protect research participants.”

The NIH Collaboratory DRN can support observational studies of comparative effectiveness and safety, prospective data collection, and randomized clinical trials. For more, see the list of publications and presentations.