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Population Health News

$30M in NIH Grants Will Support Population Health Research, Clinical Trials

NIH will offer an estimated $30 million to fund research projects related to chronic disease management, population health research, and data-driven clinical trials.

$30 million in NIH grants will support population health research and clinical trials

Source: Thinkstock

By Jessica Kent

- NIH’s Health Care Systems (HCS) Research Collaboratory has announced five new research awards to assist health systems in conducting large-scale clinical trial studies focused on population health research, care coordination, and chronic disease management.

The grants will total $4.15 million for a one-year planning phase, with an estimated $30.85 million anticipated for four years of subsequent study implementation.

Developed by the NIH Common Fund in 2012, the HCS Research Collaboratory currently supports large-scale clinical trial studies in nine health systems across the US, as well as a collaboratory coordinating center at Duke University in North Carolina.

The trials conducted at these sites focus on several key population health issues, including preventing colon cancer, suicide prevention, and reducing hospital-acquired infections.

With the addition of five new health systems, NIH will continue to conduct comprehensive, cost-effective clinical research on numerous different diseases in settings where patients are already receiving care.  

The new clinical trial research will be funded by six NIH offices, institutes, and centers, including the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The five new research projects include:

  • Primary Palliative Care for Emergency Medicine at New York University will assess how primary palliative care affects emergency department visits for older adults with serious conditions
  • Researchers at Yale University in Connecticut will develop an electronic health record tool designed to help emergency department physicians refer opioid abuse patients to ongoing treatment
  • A team at the University of Washington in Seattle will aim to embed a parental guidance and education program into adolescent primary care to prevent substance abuse, depression and anxiety, and suicide
  • In Denver, investigators from the University of Colorado will utilize artificial intelligence and chatbots to improve medication adherence in patients with chronic cardiovascular diseases
  • Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston will evaluate the impact of a comprehensive care program on older adults with advanced cancer

These new projects will help NIH strengthen the national capacity to conduct large-scale clinical trials that involve healthcare delivery organizations.

NIH contends that to make research relevant for health practices, researchers must conduct studies within healthcare systems.

“The collaboratory program pioneered efforts at NIH to conduct large-scale clinical trials within healthcare systems, and we are excited about expanding this initiative,” said Dr. David Shurtleff, NCCIH acting director.

“Conducting clinical trials in real-world settings is a critical aspect of the collaboratory program.”

Other organizations, including the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI), have promoted the use of real-world evidence (RWE) to enhance clinical trial research.

“Real world evidence, which is often gathered through observational studies, can be an extremely useful complement to the traditional ‘gold standard’ evidence – especially at a time when we understand more than ever the complexities of patients’ individual makeups and the use of therapies in the day-to-day world,” said Susan Dentzer, President and CEO of NEHI in a 2016 press release.

“If we harness the potential of real world evidence, we can shape health care decisions in ways that can help customize care to individual patients, improve health care outcomes, avoid unnecessary or even harmful care, and lead to greater value in health care spending.”

The five new projects will allow investigators to incorporate more real-world evidence in clinical trial research, leading to more valuable results and improved outcomes.

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