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SOP Partners with CER Collaborative to Launch New Certificate Program

Continuing education courses will prepare pharmacists and other clinical decision makers to evaluate and use comparative effectiveness research studies to make more informed health care decisions and improve patient outcomes.

By Malissa Carroll
April 1, 2014

Researchers from the Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) and the Center for Innovative Pharmacy Solutions (CIPS) in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS) at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy have partnered with the Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) Collaborative to develop a new continuing education certificate program that gives pharmacists and other clinical decision makers the tools to better understand, interpret, and use findings from CER studies in a wide range of clinical, coverage, and formulary decisions.

The 19-hour certificate program, offered through the School’s Knowledge Enterprise portal, will include five online modules and one in-person course. It will be open for enrollment beginning April 1.

“Currently, health care professionals who are responsible for making important coverage and formulary decisions have little guidance on how to evaluate and use CER studies in the decision making process,” says Eleanor Perfetto, PhD, MS, professor in PHSR and director of the new training program. “This program will give those decision makers the knowledge and skills that they need to evaluate and use CER studies to assess important questions in real-world settings, with the ultimate goal of using the best evidence to make decisions that improve patient outcomes.”

Seeking to help patients obtain the best health outcome for their unique situation, CER compares different medications, medical devices, tests, surgeries, and other ways to deliver health care to provide evidence on the effectiveness, benefits, and harms associated with each option. PHSR collaborated with the CIPS to launch the new certificate program, which is approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

“The collaboration between CIPS and PHSR has been seamless as we worked to develop and launch this new, cutting-edge training program,” says Roxanne Zaghab, DM, CKM, director of operations and business development for CIPS. “Since the collaboration began, everyone has worked tirelessly to ensure that the program addresses the changing education needs of practicing pharmacists — particularly those working in managed care — to help them, as well as other clinical decision makers, provide the best evidence to support their decisions.”

Developed to prepare health care professionals to use an existing online toolkit available through the CER Collaborative, the certificate program leverages the expertise of the School’s faculty and staff – including Perfetto; Fadia Shaya, MPH, PhD, professor in PHSR; Ebere Onukwugha, MS, PhD, assistant professor and director of the PHSR PhD program; and Ian Breunig, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in CIPS – to develop and lead modules that train participants to evaluate and apply CER in health care clinical and formulary decision making.

“This certificate program combines the CER Collaborative’s innovative tools with the cutting-edge knowledge of faculty members from the School of Pharmacy to bring best practices to life,” says Jennifer Graff, PharmD, director of comparative effectiveness research at the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC), one of the members of the CER Collaborative. “The program offers a unique, hands-on approach to evidence evaluation, allowing participants to view an evaluation, try one themselves, and get the tools they need to teach their colleagues about the importance of having a set of transparent and consistent principles for evaluating evidence.”

She adds, “These tools will go a long way to help decision makers as they assess and incorporate CER studies with other types of evidence for coverage and reimbursement decisions.”

Formed by the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR), and NPC, the CER Collaborative strives to provide greater uniformity and transparency in the evaluation and use of evidence for coverage and health care decision-making.

To register or learn more about the certificate program, visit

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