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MU receives $13.3 million grant to provide better health care at a lower cost

An innovative way to deliver better patient care at a lower cost will be developed at the University of Missouri with support from a $13.3 million grant. MU will use the new federal funding to combine advanced technology with education for patients and providers in an effort to transform the nation's health care system.

From approximately 3,000 applications for federal Health Care Innovation Award funding, 107 programs were selected to receive grants. MU received $13.3 million to create a program called LIGHT2: Leveraging Information Technology to Guide High Tech, High Touch Care.

"The high-tech component will give patients and providers new information technology for improving the health of individuals as well as entire populations, such as groups of patients with chronic illnesses," said Jerry Parker, PhD, director of LIGHT2 and associate dean for research at the MU School of Medicine. "The high-touch component will teach patients and providers to use this new technology to create a health care system that is more comprehensive, better coordinated, and empowers patients to take control of their own health status."

The high-tech component of LIGHT2 leverages MU's partnership with Cerner Corporation, the world's leading supplier of health information technology. MU and Cerner formed the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation in 2009 to innovate health care, connect Missouri and empower wellness. Since then, University of Missouri Health Care has been designated as one of the nation's "Most Wired" hospital systems, and one of the institute's projects for managing chronic disease was recognized nationally by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.

As LIGHT2 partners, MU and the Tiger Institute will create a comprehensive technology suite that empowers patients with information to proactively manage their care and enables providers to continuously improve their care delivery. More advanced electronic health records will make it easier for providers to monitor the status of individual patients as well as groups of patients. At the same time, patients will be able to access their own records and receive information to help them engage in their own health care. For example, patients will receive reminders about preventive screenings and medication adherence, and they will use online education modules to better manage their individual health conditions.

"Through the Tiger Institute, Cerner is excited to collaborate with the University of Missouri to create the enhanced heath care technology needed to bring this project to life," said Joanne Burns, executive director of the Tiger Institute and chief information officer for MU Health Care. "Its impressive when you realize that this award now allows for faster delivery of a new and innovative health care model."

The high-touch component of LIGHT2 will develop a specialized workforce that will be deployed in the primary care setting. This new workforce is made up of health care coordinators and health information analysts (HIA). The HIA role is a new and innovative type of health care worker who will focus directly on the health status and care needs of a specific patient population. HIAs will be able to use LIGHT2 to mine data that can elucidate the health care needs of their assigned patient population, which would otherwise remain obscure to providers.

LIGHT2 will initially serve nearly 10,000 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who receive primary care at MU. Through support for disease self-management, improved delivery system design, focus on preventive care, and better decision-making tools, LIGHT2 is expected to save $17 million in health care costs over the next three years.

LIGHT2 also will train an estimated 420 workers and create approximately 30 jobs.

"Our efforts will result in healthier and more satisfied patients, as well as reduced health care costs," said Robert Churchill, MD, Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean of the MU School of Medicine. "MU's medical school is proud to receive this impressive federal grant, which will help us continue to lead improvements in health, education, research and the economy."

In addition to Burns and Parker, who also serves as co-director of the MU Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, other LIGHT2 leaders include Karl Kochendorfer, MD, director of clinical informatics for MU's family and community medicine department; Lori Popejoy, PhD, assistant professor and 
John A. Hartford Foundation Claire M. Fagin Fellow at MU's Sinclair School of Nursing; and Eduardo Simoes, PhD, chair of MU's Department of Health Management and Informatics.

"A strong factor in our winning this competitive award was the University of Missouri Health System's strengths as an academic medical center. These strengths include multidisciplinary teams of clinicians and researchers from MU Health Care and MU's schools of medicine, nursing and health professions, plus our strong public-private partnership with the Cerner Corporation through the Tiger Institute for Health Innovation," said Hal Williamson, MD, vice chancellor for the University of Missouri Health System. "Together, we'll use this new federal grant to achieve better health outcomes for patients at a lower cost, and potentially create a new model for health care in our nation."


Contact: Michael Muin
University of Missouri School of Medicine

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