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Media Contact: Tia McCollors 12 January 2006    
  (404) 727-5692   Print  | Email ]

Emory Health Policy Researchers Begin Studies to Improve the Nation's Health Care
Health policy researchers at the Emory Center on Health Outcomes and Quality, Rollins School of Public Health, have begun three studies aimed at improving the nation's health outcomes. The projects, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) through the Integrated Delivery System Research Network (IDSRN), range from examining the cost-effectiveness of health care to identifying barriers that prevent people from receiving quality health care.

Researcher Kim Rask, MD, PhD, associate professor and director of the Emory Center on Health Outcomes and Quality and William Bornstein, MD, PhD, chief quality officer for Emory Healthcare, are leading Emory's participation in a study to help reduce inpatient injuries through a Targeted Injury Detection System (TIDS). It will provide important information on the effectiveness of using "triggers" to more rapidly identify adverse medical events.

"We'll be working collaboratively with medical centers across the country in a beta testing phase to ensure that the injury detection system that's developed can be deployed in a wide range of hospitals," Dr. Rask says. "Emory Healthcare is an ideal environment for testing TIDS because of our active patient safety initiatives and our implementation of electronic medical records."

Serving patients with low health literacy is the primary objective for a second project being led by Kara Jacobson, MPH, senior research associate, and Julie Gazmararian, PhD, research associate professor. They have collaborated with the pharmacy services division of the Grady Health System to conduct the Pharmacy Intervention for Limited Literacy (PILL) study. The study will help identify effective interventions to increase patient adherence to medication regimens.

"Almost half of adult Americans have difficulty obtaining, processing and understanding health information, Jacobson says. "These difficulties often lead to serious health problems when medications are taken incorrectly. We want to identify successful strategies that help the vulnerable patients served by Grady to keep track of when and how to take their medicines. It's part of a nationwide need for clear and simple communication of health care information and instructions."

The third study is aimed at increasing Chlamydia trachomatis (Ct) screenings in young, sexually active women. Emory health policy associate professor Adam Atherly, PhD, and senior associate Sarah Blake will oversee Emory's role in the collaboration with the National Committee on Quality Assurance. The study will target participants enrolled in commercial health plans.

"This project will help identify successful approaches that health plans can use to increase the rate of Chlamydia screenings in this group of women," Dr. Atherly says. "Almost 75 percent of women infected with CT are asymptomatic and don't realize they're infected. And although routine screening for CT for women under age 26 is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, past research has found that only one in seven eligible women are appropriately screened."

Once the project is complete, Dr. Atherly says, it will have an important impact on the quality of care provided to women across the country.

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