On January 24th, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) launched a new application portal designed to improve and streamline its Letter of Intent (LOI) and application submission process. The enhanced online portal is intended for both new requests (beginning with Cycle 1 2017 applicants) as a platform for contract management for most existing awardees. Returning applicants may be pleased to see a reduced number of pages for the initial application (“letter of inquiry” or “LOI”) process. The LOI template for PCORI’s four Broad Funding Announcements, for example, is now just two pages long with detailed prompts for specific information.
But first…if you’re unfamiliar with PCORI, let us tell you about this unique, independent, nonprofit, non-governmental entity. PCORI is Congressionally mandated “to improve the quality and relevance of evidence available to help patients, caregivers, clinicians, employers, insurers, and policy makers make informed health decisions” through patient-centered comparative clinical effectiveness research. Since its inception in 2010, PCORI has approved $1.6 billion in research funding for 570 studies with a robust research portfolio yielding an increasing number of papers in peer-reviewed medical journals.
See our recent blog post summarizing current PCORI funding opportunities here.
In addition, we had the privilege of learning a few tips for PCORI applications during the 2016 PCORI Annual Meeting last November. For example, PCORI presenters recommended including stakeholder recruitment and retention milestones within your project timeline when submitting a full application. Why? PCORI places considerable emphasis on stakeholder recruitment. Not sure that that means? This means your project should provide a genuine opportunity for collaboration with patients, caregivers, clinicians and other healthcare stakeholders (purchasers, payers, health systems, policy makers, etc.) See PCORI’s full description here as well as its detailed “Engagement Rubric.”
The purpose of emphasizing your stakeholder recruitment plans is to show your commitment to PCORI’s stakeholder engagement focus as well as demonstrate that you have realistic plans to achieve your broader recruitment and retention goals. Our advice: consider front-loading the first year of your budget request to account for extra stakeholder recruitment efforts. And by the way, stakeholders can be compensated for their participation. There’s a rubric for that too! (Note: There may be a “pre-engagement” rubric on the way to help prospective applicants starting from scratch.)
We also learned that PCORI plans to reconfigure its Pipeline to Proposal Awards initiative in the coming year while also introducing new funding announcements for targeted topics. Competition is likely to become even steeper as the funding trajectory has declined due to uncertainty with the new administration. (It is not yet clear if PCORI’s funding appropriation will be renewed after federal fiscal year 2019.) However, simply following the directions (aha!) will give you a leg up. PCORI rejected nearly half of LOIs submitted in 2015 with the most comment reason being unresponsiveness to the funding solicitation. Trouble interpreting the guidelines? We can help!