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IU and Regenstrief receive PCORI award to improve health care access for underinsured


INDIANAPOLIS — The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute has approved a three-year research award of more than $2 million to the Indiana University Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research and the Regenstrief Institute Inc. to study ways to improve health care access for the underinsured.

Regenstrief Institute investigator Bradley N. Doebbeling, M.D., professor of medicine in the Indiana University School of Medicine and adjunct professor in the School of Informatics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, will lead the research project on behalf of the Indiana Access Collaborative. The project will focus on developing procedures to help underinsured people efficiently and effectively get the care they need for common health problems.

The research, which will be conducted in seven Indiana Community Health Centers, builds upon longtime work by Dr. Doebbeling, Tammy Toscos, Ph.D., of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, and Ayten Turkcan, Ph.D., of Northeastern University. Community health centers are a major component of America’s health care safety net, providing primary care to low-income citizens, the uninsured and other vulnerable populations. Partners include the Indiana Primary Health Care Association and MDwise, Inc. as well as the community health centers and their patients. Drs. Toscos and Turkcan are co-investigators on the PCORI contact.

“Data show that 2 in 10 adults report that they either delayed or did not receive needed health care due to financial or insurance reasons. And they may confront many other barriers,” Dr. Doebbeling said. “Despite recent changes to policy and efforts to improve efficiencies, there are still widespread problems with accessing health care. In this newly funded research project, we will identify and address the challenges underinsured people in Indiana face in overcoming barriers to gaining access to care.

“Understanding challenges and systems redesign is part of the solution to reining in the large proportion — estimated at 30 to 40 percent of national health care costs — that is wasteful or inefficient. In any population, such as the group of Indiana Community Health Centers and their patients, there are some who have figured out the best way to practice. Our study will learn from the experiences of patients, providers and staff members to help prioritize care access strategies and implement them.”

In addition to Dr. Doebbeling’s Regenstrief and IU appointments, he is a senior scientist with the VA Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence in Indianapolis and a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

The study is part of a portfolio of patient-centered research that addresses PCORI’s national research priorities and will provide patients with information that will help them make more informed decisions about their care.

“This project reflects PCORI’s commitment to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research, a new approach to health research that emphasizes the inclusion of patients and caregivers at all stages of the study process,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, M.D., MPH. “The research will provide patients and those who care for them better information about the health care decisions they face.”

The Indiana University and Regenstrief Institute study is one of 51 projects totaling $88.6 million approved for funding by PCORI’s Board of Governors on May 6. All were selected through a highly competitive review process in which scientists, patients, caregivers and other stakeholders helped to evaluate more than 400 applications for funding.

Proposals were evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, how well they engage patients and other stakeholders, their methodological rigor, how well they fit within PCORI’s national research priorities, and their likelihood of having an important impact on care.  This award is the first to investigators in Indiana.

The awards are part of PCORI’s second cycle of primary research funding. This new round of funding follows PCORI’s initial approval of $40.7 million in support for 25 projects under the institute’s national research priorities. All awards in this most recent round of funding were approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input continuously from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.