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Headshot of Ethan Basch
UNC Lineberger’s Ethan Basch, MD, MSc.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded UNC Lineberger’s Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, FASCO, $3 million in research funding to support a multi-institutional initiative to implement electronic patient-reported outcomes, or ePRO, in oncology practices across the country.

“People being treated for cancer often experience a range of symptoms that can cause distress and impairment, and even preventable emergency room visits and hospitalization. Improving how patient symptoms are detected and managed is essential to providing high-quality cancer care, but how this is accomplished has been a vexing issue,” said Basch, the Richard M. Goldberg Distinguished Professor in Medical Oncology and chief of oncology at the UNC School of Medicine and director of the Cancer Outcomes Research Program at UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Previous studies have shown that ePRO interventions have improved clinical outcomes, including health-related quality of life, physical function and even provided a survival benefit. However, concerns have been raised whether integrating ePROs into community oncology practices’ electronic medical records would be overly burdensome in terms of staff time and costs.

In partnership with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Cancer Society, and US Oncology and four of the largest electronic medical record companies in the country, the initiative will incorporate ePROs into oncology practices across the country. The project’s objectives include assessing the implementation process and the benefits of symptom monitoring with ePROs in real-world oncology practices. The researchers will also develop standard operating procedures for ePRO implementation – a critical need if the program is to be rolled out more broadly in the future.

The project team includes investigators from UNC Lineberger, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Duke Cancer Institute, Mayo Clinic Arizona, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

In addition to providing administrative and scientific leadership, the research and partner organizations will contribute about $30 million of in-kind support for the project.

“This project is part of a portfolio of PCORI-funded projects that aim to improve the awareness, uptake and use of results from patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research,” said PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH. “Through a highly competitive review process, awardees’ proposals were assessed for the importance of the findings being shared and implemented and the potential for the project to lead to changes in practice and improvements in health care and health outcomes.”

The funding award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress with a mission to fund patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research that provides patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information they need to make better informed health and healthcare decisions.