Comparative effectiveness research (CER) is one of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s significant initiatives that aims to improve treatment outcomes and lower health care costs. This Article takes CER a step further and suggests a novel clinical application for it. The Article proposes the development of a national framework to enable physicians to rapidly perform, through a computerized service, medically sound personalized comparisons of the effectiveness of possible treatments for patients’ conditions. A treatment comparison for a given patient would be based on data from electronic health records of a cohort of clinically similar patients who received the treatments previously and whose outcomes were recorded. This framework has unique potential to simultaneously improve the quality of health care, reduce its cost, and alleviate public concerns about rationing and “one size fits all” medicine.


Electronic health records, Comparative effectiveness research, Health care outcomes, Health care innovations, Health care costs, Personalized comparison of treatment effectiveness, Personalized medicine, Medical informatics, Medical data integrity

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics

Publication Information

39 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 425 (2011)


COinS Sharona Hoffman Faculty Bio