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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.

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The award is part of $473 million in AHRQ grants and contracts that support projects to help people make healthcare decisions based on the best evidence of effectiveness. The funding, announced Sept. 30, covers all of the AHRQ's allocation and $173 million administered for the HHS secretary by AHRQ.

The grants are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which included $1.1 billion to support patient-centered outcomes research, also known as comparative effectiveness research.

Given that this research involves not just healthcare but technology, the project will take a "team science" approach. The UCLA team comprises members of the Geffen School of Medicine, the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, the School of Nursing, the School of Dentistry, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the UCLA Wireless Health Institute. The overall team also includes research teams from UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC San Francisco, and Cedars-Sinai.

"This is a marvelous example of the leadership that UC can offer to all Americans as we collaborate with one another and significant partners like Cedars-Sinai to study interventions that most efficiently help patients navigate transitions from the hospital so that they can avoid preventable readmissions," Dr. John Stobo, University of California senior VP for health sciences and services, said in a statement. "UC is committed to developing innovations and a new paradigm of healthcare delivery that creates a culture of deliberate improvement."

This project builds on a study of variations in healthcare resource use and outcomes among heart failure patients from the five universities and Cedars-Sinai that was led by Dr. Ong and published last year in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. That study found that six-month mortality rates were lower for elderly Medicare heart failure patients hospitalized at centers that used more healthcare resources, compared with those at hospitals that used fewer resources.

These findings suggested that more resource-intensive care may improve outcomes among certain patients with heart failure, the most frequent cause of hospitalization and death among Medicare beneficiaries.