The Maneater

School of Medicine to start patient-centered outcome research

The $4.5-million grant will fund three major projects concerning vascular surgery, nursing facility discharges and narcotics prescriptions.

The School of Medicine received a $4.5-million federal grant that will fund the new MU Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research.

University officials announced Dec. 19 that the grant, provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the Department of Health and Human Services, will support an ongoing five-year project dedicated to patient-centered research.

Researchers from the School of Medicine, Sinclair School of Nursing, School of Health Professions and School of Journalism will be involved. The American Academy of Family Physicians National Research Network will also collaborate on the research.

Robin Kruse, who is the core director for the center, said there will be committees helping to assemble people on various projects.

A proposal review committee will provide feedback to investigators on how to improve their proposals.

“We’re going to offer them funding to help investigators gather pilot data so they would be more competitive for a federal grant,” Kruse said.

In addition, there will be a committee that will oversee a seminar series to train people in patient-centered outcomes research, and another will be in charge of evaluating the progress of the grants.

David Mehr, a principal investigator on the grant and head of inpatient and outpatient geriatric consultation at MU Health Care, said MU researchers will conduct three major projects with the grant.

“The grant announcement comes out from the agency, and I looked at it and said, 'This is something that we could be successful at,'” Mehr said. “So I pulled together a large group of people and defined projects that we thought we could implement and that fit together well, and these were the projects we came up with.”

Todd Vogel, associate professor of vascular surgery in the School of Medicine and vascular surgeon at MU Health Care, will lead the project comparing the effectiveness of vascular surgery and less invasive procedures in preserving limbs and preventing future rehospitalizations.

Kruse, who is also a co-investigator on the project, said the initiative will hopefully yield results for predictors for hospital readmission through examining differences in the effectiveness of both procedures.

“We are going to analyze two large data sets to compare two different types of vascular surgery,” Kruse said. “You’ve probably heard of minimally invasive or endovascular surgery, where they put balloons or stents into an artery to open it up. Then there’s the traditional surgery (that’s becoming less common) where they make bypasses around the blockages.”

The second project will aim to improve the discharge process for patients from skilled nursing facilities by improving communication between nursing home staff and outpatient health care providers to prevent new hospitalizations.

Lori Popejoy, assistant professor of nursing in the Sinclair School of Nursing, will be an investigator on this project.

“When people leave the hospital, sometimes they go to a nursing facility instead of directly home because they’re not quite well enough to go home but not quite sick enough to stay in the hospital,” Kruse said. “So Lori Popejoy will be doing that study and coming up with ways to improve that process to ensure that patient has good continuity of care in that nursing facility.”

Daniel Vinson, professor emeritus of family and community medicine in the School of Medicine, will head the third project, which deals with primary care practices to improve the process for prescribing narcotics for chronic pain.

“These three projects were the best developed at the time we put in the application and were the most ready to be included at the beginning,” Mehr said. “There are several other projects that we hope to develop throughout the course of the grant. The grant includes the three projects, but it also includes many other activities.”

Mehr said this grant will primarily look at the kinds of outcomes patients care about.

“This is an increasingly important area of research,” he said. “Under the Affordable Care Act, there is new, major funding for this type of research, and the goal is to increase our capacity to do this type of research in the School of Medicine and improve the care of patients in the process.”

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