New Survey Shows Employers Eyeing CER, PCORI for Health Information

Washington, DC, June 22, 2011--Employers are aware of comparative effectiveness research (CER) and its potential to answer critical questions about health care, according to a new survey and white paper released today by the National Pharmaceutical Council. In particular, employers will be looking to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as their most trusted source of this information.

“This survey demonstrates that employers need to be regarded as key stakeholders in the CER conversation,” said Dan Leonard, president of the National Pharmaceutical Council. “Employers have a tremendous appetite for research that can help them understand the comparative benefit of various interventions and yield more value from every health care dollar they spend.” 

Employers expect that CER findings will help them achieve health improvement and cost management goals, according to the survey. Nearly one in four respondents indicated that the potential to improve decisions is “Very Strong.”  When posed with hypothetical CER findings on low back pain and diabetes, employers indicated high willingness to apply the information to:

  • Educate and equip employees to make better decisions (73 percent back pain; 80 percent diabetes)
  • Ask health plans to change coverage and pharmacy benefits managers to change the formulary based on CER evidence (55 percent and 44 percent, respectively, for back pain; 66 percent and 73 percent, respectively, for diabetes)
  • Align incentives toward more effective treatment options (53 percent back pain; 72 percent diabetes)

The survey, conducted by the Benfield Group on behalf of NPC, also demonstrated that employers hope CER will provide more answers about workplace productivity.  Additional data would close a gap that currently exists among employers.  Fewer than one-third of employers (or their vendors) currently uses information about absence, disability and return to work in assessing the impact of various treatments, yet 70 percent indicate that such information would be “Important” or “Very Important” within CER. 

In fact, employers indicated that they are ready to support advocacy for information about workplace-relevant outcomes in CER.  Of those who thought of workplace outcomes in CER as “Important” or “Very Important,” 93 percent said they would encourage their health benefit design vendor partners to advocate for inclusion in CER, and 85 percent would encourage employer health organizations to do so. 

The role for PCORI among employers is clear from the survey data.  At 76 percent, PCORI—the private, non-profit corporation created by the health reform law to develop and fund CER—was chosen by more employers than any other potential resource as the most reliable and trusted source for CER information, followed by health plan partners (56 percent), employee benefit consultants (48 percent) and health care coalition meetings/presentations (39 percent).

“This is important data because it informs the process that PCORI is using to conduct and disseminate research,” said Chuck Reynolds, president of the employer practice at the Benfield Group.  “Given that it takes nearly two decades for the adoption of evidence-based practices in the US, it is notable that our research demonstrates not only a desire among employers to have CER, but a willingness and ability to put CER to work in ways that will increase the likelihood that both patients and providers will adopt CER-based practices.”

View the complete survey results and white paper.

About the Survey


In December 2010, the Benfield Group invited health and pharmacy benefit decision-makers and influencers to participate in a 15-minute online survey.  To supplement the 75 completed surveys, Benfield completed 25 in-depth interviews with employers (21), employer health coalition leaders (2) and employee benefit consultants (2).

Among those surveyed were employee benefit directors, medical directors and other health management professionals with health management and pharmacy benefit decision-making authority or influence in large (5,000 or more employees), self-insured corporations.   

Of the 75 companies surveyed, 47 percent had more than 20,000 employees, and all companies were at least 50 percent self-insured, with 88 percent of the companies at least 75 percent self-insured.  Of respondents, 81 percent indicated they are decision-makers or influencers when it comes to employee health strategy, with the balance indicating they provide input.


About the National Pharmaceutical Council

The National Pharmaceutical Council is a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of good evidence and science, and to fostering an environment in the United States that supports medical innovation. Founded in 1953 and supported by the nation’s major research-based pharmaceutical companies, NPC focuses on research development, information dissemination, and education on the critical issues of evidence, innovation and the value of medicines for patients. For more information, visit


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