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Comparative effectiveness research (CER) compares the benefits and harms of alternative methods to prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor a clinical condition or to improve the delivery of care for a particular group of patients. With the advent of clinical information systems, e.g., the electronic medical record, observational studies play an increasingly important role in generating clinical evidence for CER. From an information technology perspective, we identify four challenges associated with CER: 1) compliance with recommended procedures in epidemiology, 2) efficient discovery of potentially interesting hypotheses, 3) correct use of the appropriate statistical methods in hypothesis testing, and 4) the appropriate presentation and interpretation of results. To address these challenges, we propose a new system On-demand Comparative Effectiveness Research Accelerator (OCERA). The new system can facilitate observational studies for CER and assist clinical researchers in effectively and efficiently conducting high-quality CER studies.
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