U of Md. health IT seed program invests in health transformation with research grants

The University of Maryland Center of Excellence in Health IT Research (Center) a multi-campus initiative with collaboration across the College Park and Baltimore campuses, awarded $15,000 in funding to each of two teams working on promising health information technologies as part of the inaugural Health IT Seed Grant Program. The investments demonstrate the University of Maryland’s commitment to advancing innovation and research to accelerate the transformation of the nation’s health care system.

“These grants are testaments to the University of Maryland’s research capacity across the multiple disciplines that have to work together improve quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of our health system,” said Ritu Agarwal, co-lead of the Center and professor and Dean’s Chair of Information Systems at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

“Healthcare is center stage in today’s policy agenda,” said Robert S. Gold, co-lead of the Center and Dean, School of Public Health, University of Maryland. “The efforts of our research teams will contribute to the public policy discourse.”

The first awardee team is working with the University of Maryland Medical System to develop a network system to rapidly evaluate patients at risk for oral cancer and improve efficacy, reduce the cost of care, and expand outreach and care coordination. The project, called “A Real Time Electronic Network for Early Oral Cancer Risk Assessment and Detection,” will use web-based high-definition video streaming to facilitate head and neck consultations online in real time. This will improve decision making, eliminate the need for multiple referrals and decrease patients “lost in the medical system.” The program also seeks to reduce pronounced racial disparities in oral cancer outcomes.

The team hopes to roll out implementation of the system at sites in Maryland affiliated with the University System, starting with College Park and eventually spreading to Cecil County, Prince George’s County, the lower Eastern Shore and Allegany College in Western Maryland, along with the Baltimore campus. The Academic Health Center will eventually be the major hubs for this collaboration. The research will yield important insights into the use of a community based real-time network to improve outcomes using telemedicine for rapid consultation, referral, diagnosis and follow-up. The findings from this research will yield a better understanding of the factors and processes to support care coordination models such as the patient-centered medical home and accountable care organization.

The project is led by Drs. Mark Scheper and Timothy Meiller of the School of Dentistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and collaborators Dr. Douglas Barnes, head of the Advanced Education in General Dentistry Program at the University of Maryland, College Park and head of the Division of General Dentistry, University of Maryland, Baltimore; and Kent Buckingham, director of Information Technology for the Dental School.

The second grant goes to a team of doctors working on risk assessments for bone fractures in the elderly. The project, “Investigating Disparity of Bone Health by Integrating Bone Mineral Density Data,” will build and test statistical models to improve individual risk assessments using a newly developed methodology called threshold regression. Osteoporosis and bone health are global public health problems affecting more than 200 million people.

Across the United States, 10 million people have osteoporosis and 18 million more are at risk. The team will use multiple clinical datasets integrated with health insurance claims to create a combined data warehouse for studying and analyzing bone fractures that may enhance prevention and treatment of bone-related illnesses. They will develop computer software for public use that can produce improved risk assessments. The team’s integrated approach and the models and techniques they develop have the potential to be used in many other disciplines and therapeutic areas.

The project team includes lead investigators Drs. Xin He and Mei-Ling Ting of the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Dr. Marc C. Hochberg who heads the Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

“We are proud to support these research teams who are applying advanced methods for improving care coordination and using secondary use of EHR data, respectively, and look forward to spurring innovation among faculty, students and partners in future rounds. We are committed to leveraging the rich capabilities and deep resources across the University of Maryland campuses to drive improved healthcare in Maryland and beyond, support economic development and job growth, and continue to firmly establish ourselves as an academic leader in the drive to accelerate health transformation” said Kenyon Crowley, program director for the center.


Source : University of Maryland

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