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10/6/2010
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HHS Awards $9.9 Million For Cardiovascular Telehealth Study

Government stimulus funds to support research into the impact of wireless and telephone care management on heart failure patients' health.




Image Gallery: Wireless Telehealth Brings Medical Help To Those In Need
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A UCLA-led consortium of five University of California medical schools, along with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, has received $9.9 million from the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to research the use of wireless and telephone care management to reduce hospital readmissions for heart failure patients.

The project will be a three-armed, randomized controlled trial examining the effect of two interventions: managing the transition from inpatient to outpatient care via telephone, and managing the transition from inpatient to outpatient care via wireless remote monitors and telephone. These will be compared to the standard care for heart failure patients.

"Heart failure patients have high rates of hospital readmissions, and a critical window for preventing readmissions is as the patient transitions from the inpatient to outpatient setting," Dr. Michael Ong, assistant professor of medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the grant's principal investigator, said in a statement. "This project compares two approaches designed to help patients make a smooth transition from inpatient to outpatient care. We will compare whether each approach reduces readmissions among heart failure patients at six different medical centers."

The three-year grant, "Variations in Care: Comparing Heart Failure Care Transition Intervention Effects," is funded under the AHRQ's Clinical and Health Outcomes Initiative in Comparative Effectiveness (CHOICE) program.

"This funding is critical if we're to learn how to reinvent healthcare in the United States," Dr. Tom Rosenthal, chief medical officer for Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, said in a statement. "Our goal is to improve quality and reduce cost of care and, most importantly, to identify approaches that are applicable in every community, not only large academic centers."

Irene Berlinsky, IDC's research analyst covering multiplay services, noted that as telehealth technology becomes more pervasive in healthcare, medical schools have a significant role to play in conducting research to find out how effective these devices are in improving the quality of patient care.

"Medical schools, thanks to their academic affiliations, are key centers of healthcare research. They are able to draw upon the pool of credentialed researchers -- doctors, career scientists, and information technology experts - required to carry out such trials," Berlinsky said.

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