Director named for new comparative effectiveness institute

Healthcare researcher Joe Selby will be the first executive director of a controversial new institute, created under the healthcare reform law, that will study the most effective medical treatments.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute announced Selby's selection Monday. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine, where he has studied quality and effectiveness issues. Selby is joining the new institute from a position with Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.

The institute will conduct comparative effectiveness research — evaluating various treatment options head-to-head to determine which is the most effective. Some critics have said that comparative effectiveness research is a form of "rationing" and could lead to a one-size-fits-all approach to medicine that denies people individualized care.

The healthcare law limits Medicare's ability to use the results of comparative effectiveness research in payment decisions.