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UT Southwestern launches Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research

DALLAS February 17, 2014 UT Southwestern Medical Center has been funded to establish a Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research that supports and conducts high-quality research comparing the outcomes and effectiveness of different strategies to prevent, diagnose, treat, and monitor health conditions to improve patient care.

UT Southwestern's Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research will be part of a national network of seven institutions focused on patient-centered outcomes and comparative-effectiveness research aimed at improving patient care. Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) is a relatively new field that assesses the benefits and harms of different preventive, diagnostic, therapeutic, palliative, and health delivery system interventions to inform decision making, highlighting comparisons and outcomes that matter to people.

The UT Southwestern Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research will be funded through a $5 million, five-year grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). It will be led by Dr. Ethan A. Halm, Chief of the William and Gay Solomon Division of General Internal Medicine and Chief of the Division of Outcomes and Health Services Research in the Department of Clinical Sciences. The grant will expand the research infrastructure, databases, training programs, personnel, laboratories, and collaborative relationships needed to conduct successful patient-centered research.

"The best way to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care is to conduct rigorous studies that establish what works and doesn't work, for whom, and under what circumstances. Once this information is known, the next challenge is to understand how to most effectively deliver the right care, to the right person, in the right way, at the right time in the real world," said Dr. Halm, principal investigator of the grant, and Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences.

UT Southwestern's center will focus on conducting patient-centered outcomes research in underserved patients, populations, and settings, including those served by safety-net systems, the poor, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrant populations, and those lacking health insurance.

"We chose this focus because patients who are poor, part of minority populations, or lack insurance have worse health outcomes, and resource-limited health systems are most in need of strategies to deliver clinically effective and cost-effective care," Dr. Halm said. "Our projects will emphasize approaches that use electronic health records (EHRs) to identify those at high risk of poor outcomes and system-based outreach programs to deliver high-quality, patient-centered care to those most in need."

The Center will conduct three projects that harness data in the EHRs to:

  • Improve patient-centered outcomes for patients with advanced cancer.
  • Evaluate different strategies to increase screening for liver cancer in those with liver disease.
  • Test different computerized algorithms to predict the risk of hospital readmission.

The Center also will help facilitate other studies designed to ensure delivery of high-quality, patient-centered, evidence-based, equitable care.

"Another of our goals is to increase the number of faculty, fellows, and residents interested in investigative careers in this exciting new applied research discipline," Dr. Halm said. Therefore, the Center will be expanding shared research infrastructure and training opportunities for faculty and trainees interested in patient-centered outcomes and comparative effectiveness research. This expansion will include new research seminars and a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research track in the Masters of Science program.

To start, UT Southwestern's Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research will include about 40 physicians, researchers, and other affiliated health care workers in a multi-institution partnership across UT Southwestern, Parkland Health & Hospital System, Children's Medical Center, VA North Texas Health Care System, and UT School of Public Health Dallas regional campus. The Center has received strong backing from the leaders of UT Southwestern and its partner institutions.

The Center will work in conjunction with UT Southwestern's recently launched Center for Translational Medicine, part of a $28.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to promote rapid translation of basic laboratory findings into patient care. The Center for Translational Medicine is a member of a national Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium that includes 62 medical research institutions working collaboratively to improve bench-to-bedside translation across the country.

"This new Center for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research will be the perfect complement to our efforts to accelerate progress in both 'bench-to-bedside' as well as 'bench-to-trench' research translating findings into practice and populations," said Dr. Robert Toto, Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research, Director of UT Southwestern's Center for Translational Medicine, and Professor of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences.

UT Southwestern also will partner with the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-Based Practice Center (EPC) and DEcIDE Network for their expertise in systematic reviews, meta-analysis, and comparative effectiveness research. The Johns Hopkins EPC and the DEcIDE (Developing Evidence to Inform Decisions about Effectiveness) Network are a collection of research centers that gather new knowledge and information on specific treatments. The DEcIDE Network, funded through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, conducts studies on the outcomes, effectiveness, safety, and usefulness of medical treatments and services.

"Providers and patients need better information about the pros and cons of different alternative diagnostic and treatment strategies so that they can truly personalize care," Dr. Halm said. "Our ultimate aim is to help people make well-informed, shared decisions about their health care that are based on high-quality evidence, their individual risk factors, as well as their values and preferences something we call Personalized Medicine 2.0."


Contact: Russell Rian
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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