Finding the good in our communities

Ohio College of Osteopathic Medicine To Collaborate With Area Health Facilities

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(Athens) – The Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine was one of six medical schools in the state to receive a $400,000 grant to develop a regional hub focused on improving health outcomes for individuals with Medicaid. Ohio University’s Health Collaborative will specifically work to improve health outcomes in southeastern Ohio.

The hub will accelerate the dissemination of research findings and best practices in healthcare delivery to clinical partners in the region, helping them to make improvements more quickly.

The funding from the Ohio Department of Medicaid and Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center’s (GRC) Medicaid Technical Assistance and Policy Program (MedTAPP) is being used by the Ohio University Health Collaborative for the creation of a Regional Quality Improvement (QI) Hub for southeastern Ohio. The Health Collaborative is comprised of faculty and researchers from the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP), the Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Service, and the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

“We will serve as the central ‘hub’ and will recruit clinical partners to act as ‘spokes’ of the hub, with the goal of accelerating their learning and implementation of best practices. The hub will also provide structure to collectively support health improvements for Ohio’s Medicaid population,” Elizabeth Beverly, Ph.D., Osteopathic Heritage Foundation Ralph S. Licklider, D.O., Endowed Professor in Behavioral Diabetes and lead of the Regional QI Hub team, said. 

To create the Regional QI Hub, members of the Health Collaborative are drawing upon the strengths and expertise from each college to identify, implement, and spread structured quality improvement projects to clinical partners. The goal is to translate evidence-based care into clinical practice by offering infrastructure that supports regional health improvements, improves patient outcomes, achieves efficiencies in health care delivery and reduces health care expenditures. 

The program will initially focus on diabetes in the Medicaid population and expand to other high priority areas over time. This is part of a bigger plan from Medicaid to establish permanent hubs across the state.

“Stark disparities exist between southeastern Ohio and the rest of the state,” Beverly said. “With a Regional QI Hub tailored to the needs of our community, we will provide the necessary infrastructure to support our local providers, clinics and health care systems in their efforts to deliver the highest level of care.”

Ohio ranks 47th on health value out of 50 states and Washington, D.C. In southeastern Ohio, residents have higher rates of death by heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, injury and diabetes compared to non-Appalachian Ohio. 

“We need a Regional QI Hub to support our rural providers so that they can enhance patient care, standardize processes and reduce variation to achieve better health outcomes for the people of southeastern Ohio,” Beverly added.

The Ohio Department of Medicaid has already been successful in QI efforts focused on chronic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, as well as maternal, infant and child health. The Regional QI Hub will build on these efforts to close disparity gaps in the Medicaid population.

To build the Regional QI Hub, OHIO will draw on existing relationships with clinical partners such as Hopewell Health Centers, Genesis Health System, Adena Health System, Marietta Memorial Health System, the Heritage College Community Clinic, the Rising Suns Pharmacy Nonprofit, and Buckeye Health Plan.

In addition, OHIO will serve as part of the QI Hub Consortium Advisory Panel and work with other Ohio colleges of medicine and critical stakeholders to disseminate evidence-based resources in selected QI projects.

Formed in 2019, the Health Collaborative forged stronger cross-college relationships, created a shared database of community projects and enhanced Ohio University’s ability to provide HIPAA compliant data storage. Further, the Health Collaborative strengthened OHIO’s expertise in data analytics and visualization, with a particular focus on collecting, organizing, storing, and transmitting electronic health record data.

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