The advisers will bring important and unique perspectives to the research of patient engagement, said David Wright, who serves as chief outcomes officer for GetWellNetwork and is executive director of the institute. The company provided $1 million to support institute staff and initial research projects through 2010, and will seek corporate partners and grants in the future.
Other companies that also provide patient-engagement technologysuch as Emmi Solutions, Chicago, and BeWell Mobile Technology, San Franciscoand organizations doing patient-engagement research like the Commonwealth Fund are not represented on the board. However, the institute will offer complementary research for a largely fragmented market, said Emmis CEO Ronald Rooth. Its very timely and relevant, he said, and added that some Emmi clients are on the institutes advisory board.
Indeed, the institute will help fill a research gap that exists for health information technology, according to Gregory Seiler, vice president and general manager of BeWell Mobile. While agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration are well-established for the research of medicine, research and development of IT are fundamentally different. Its important to have research facilities well-suited for that, he said. They can attract and concentrate funding for this type of activity.
Wright said the institute will remain independent of GetWellNetwork.
The company is also serving as the catalyst for research that applies the knowledge base around patient involvement, according to Brian Robinson, executive vice president of the Studer Group, who sits on the board. Studer has demonstrated that patient engagement leads to better quality, safety and financial outcomes, and the institute work is complementary to those findings, he said. This hits all the big pillars of interest. Robinson said that the new institute will bring in other organizations and research opportunities as it grows. This is not about promoting GetWellNetwork.
The timing is right, GetWellNetworks Wright added. As the government continues to look at tying payment to performance and organizations like the National Quality Forum and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality study measures that get patients more involved in their own care, hardly anyone has studied how patient-engagement methods can be used in practice, he said. There is a lot of increasing focus around patient engagement.
Quality experts say that such engagement has the potential to improve patient care. Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder said the healthcare industry has needed to figure out how to engage patients for some time. Employers have long wanted their employees vested in their healthcare, said Binder, who represents the employer-led patient-safety group on the institute board.
The advisory board, which will provide guidance and approval on the research projects conducted by the institute, has met once, with another meeting planned for November. The institute is establishing protocols for research projects, which will be led by David Nash, a physician who is dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia. Nash also is a member of the advisory board.
The institute will begin with two projects to be chosen from a list of three: patient falls, medication safety and readmission rates for heart failure patients, Wright said. Any hospital meeting the criteria of the research protocols can volunteer to participate in the research, although the institute will begin with GetWellNetwork clients because those relationships are already established, he said. Research is expected to get under way in July.
A version of this story initially appeared in this week's edition of Modern Healthcare magazine.
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