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Create a Health IT “Information Commons”

An “information commons” would permit researchers to access data from Medicare, state Medicaid programs, and large health care insurers to draw on a vast trove of payment data and clinical information.

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An “information commons” would permit researchers to access data from Medicare, state Medicaid programs, and large health care insurers to draw on a vast trove of payment data and clinical information. Research based on this data would further our knowledge about which treatments, drugs, and devices are less costly and more effective than available alternatives. Researchers would access these data under data use agreements that assure the confidentiality of individual patient records.

Working out the permissions and other agreements necessary to submit data to and use data from the commons would accelerate outcomes and clinical effectiveness research, which could be further enhanced by committing new public and private funds into this work. A major investment—ideally $4 to $6 billion per year—dedicated to understanding the comparative strengths and effectiveness of competing treatment options would provide much-needed information to support health care decision-making. All sectors of our health care system would use this information, and should be engaged in funding and managing its work. This approach should also provide a political shield for potentially controversial analytic findings.

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