The HMO Research Network is a consortium of 14 HMOs that collaborate to perform public domain research. Each of these HMOs has linkable automated pharmacy, claims and membership data, and so are capable of identifying important safety problems within a reasonable time following the marketing of many new drugs. Some also have automated medical records and laboratory data. Nine of the Network HMOs, with a total population of 7.1 million, have been funded by the US government as a Center for Research and Education in Therapeutics (CERTs), bolstering their efforts to create and maintain the infrastructure needed to support research and education in therapeutics, including the standardization of data, provision of central programming support, and mapping of drugs to a standard formulary. The HMOs participating in this effort are Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, which leads the CERTs, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Health Partners Research Foundation (Minnesota), Henry Ford Health Systems, Fallon Healthcare System, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Kaiser Permanente Georgia, and Kaiser Permanente Colorado. The populations involved are ethnically and geographically diverse, and represent 2%-3% of the US population. These remain nine separate data resources, however, and each HMO can elect to participate, or not, in any given study (Richard Platt, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, personal communication).
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