New Health Innovation Institute Issues First Research Grants

The Duke Institute for Health Innovation (DIHI) will fund two new faculty projects that aim to improve care for breast cancer patients and individuals undergoing stem cell transplants. 

The projects are the first to be funded by Duke's new multidisciplinary institute that promotes innovation in health care through research, leadership development and entrepreneurship.

* Breast Cancer Care Maps: A Multi-use EHR-based Process Improvement Project for Coordination of Cancer Care (Authors: Shelley Hwang, professor of surgery; Kelly Marcom, associate professor of medicine; Ilona Stashko, senior IT analyst at Duke Health Technology Solutions; Steve Power, administrative director of quality initiatives at Duke Cancer Institute; Sohayla Pruitt, senior IT analyst at Duke Health Technology Solutions; and Carolyn Carpenter, administrator and associate dean of the Duke Cancer Institute).

This pilot will create breast cancer care maps that use patient, tumor and order information from Duke's electronic health record and data warehouse to improve patient understanding of treatment plans and physician adherence to evidence-based care guidelines. The care maps, which will be accessible via SmartPhone or the Web, will summarize each patient's planned course of treatment and include timelines, appointments and directions to care sites. The maps will also transform care delivery by including quality, efficiency and other performance data that help providers across the Duke health system minimize unintended variations and comply with Duke- and nationally recognized breast cancer care standards.

* Patient-centered medical home care for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (Authors: Nelson Chao, professor of medicine and immunology; Amy Abernethy, associate professor of medicine and nursing; Patrick Seed, associate professor of pediatrics and assistant professor of molecular genetics, microbiology, and surgery; and Carolyn Carpenter, administrator and associate dean of the Duke Cancer Institute).

This pilot will develop a "short stay" adult bone marrow transplant that "brings the hospital to the patient" instead of requiring that patients remain in the hospital for three months. This approach will reduce patient exposure to hospital-based infections, thereby improving outcomes and reducing costs related to avoidable complications and unnecessary hospitalizations. The intervention will also improve access by extending current capacity so five patients can be cared for concurrently -- each from their home.

DIHI's call for research proposals, which generated over 60 responses in less than a month, encouraged applicants to submit innovative projects that improve access to care for patients and family members, patient experience and satisfaction, work culture and/or clinical efficiency and effectiveness within the Duke University Health System (DUHS). A multidisciplinary review committee identified seven finalists. The finalists presented their projects to a senior leadership group consisting of representatives from DUHS, Private Diagnostic Clinic, School of Medicine and School of Nursing.

"We could not be more energized about DIHI's new RFA process and the number of outstanding applications that we received in response to our inaugural call for proposals," said Dr. Victor J. Dzau, chancellor for health affairs for Duke and president and chief executive officer, Duke University Health System. "This process, undoubtedly, will be an important mechanism for generating new, transformative approaches to care that we can pilot within DUHS.  We would like to congratulate everyone for their hard work, and are looking forward to seeing the ideas that stem from future funding opportunities."

"The applications were of consistently high quality, which made selecting the awardees a very difficult task," said Dr. William Fulkerson, DUHS executive vice president. "During the weeks ahead, DIHI will be re-examining the remaining proposals that were submitted to see if they align with emerging DUHS priorities and could be supported through other means."