VA, Regenstrief come together for precision monitoring

Department of Veterans Affairs is 'ideally poised to apply precision monitoring to transform care and outcomes'
By Jessica Davis
09:15 AM
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The Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, along with the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine have joined forces to propel the Precision Medicine Initiative set forward by President Obama in the 2015 State of the Union Address.

[See also: Obama seeks precision medicine ideas]

Utilizing a $5 million award from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, researcher-clinicians launched the precision monitoring or PRIS-M pilot. The program is designed to enhance precision medicine through analysis of retrieved patient data to ensure the right information is given to the correct medical professional in a timely manner.

"The VA's expertise and experience with patient-specific electronic medical data may help identify strategies to ensure that patients receive the best care and, importantly, are not lost to follow-up," said Regenstrief and VA researcher Dawn Bravata, MD, co-principal investigator of PRIS-M.

The five-year research program will translate data from the VA into more individualized patient care, using timely monitoring services and actionable implementation. The analysis will cover emergency rooms and inpatient and outpatient care facilities, focused on a complete range of medical conditions.

[See also: Big data: the lifeblood of precision medicine]

The idea of precision medicine is to create a treatment plan tailored to the patient using data from their genetics, lifestyle and environment, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. However, physicians are often left inundated with a swarm of information. Through PRIS-M, investigators hope to find a better way to effectively sift through the data and enhance patient care.

"There are a lot of data in the VA electronic health record, but it's hard to access and to work with without adequately prepared staff, who understand the clinical and technical aspects of our data," said investigator Edward Miech, of both Regenstrief and the Roudebush VA Medical Center, in a statement.

"Many VAs and other hospitals don't have this capability, so with PRIS-M we hope to develop and test tools and implementation strategies that make data accessible and beneficial when and where needed in ways that will help patients in the VA and eventually those in other facilities," he added.

The PRIS-M project covers a wide range of precision monitoring needs. The first project focuses on the point of care and evaluating the implementation of electronic clinical quality measures. This will coincide with clinical quality improvement projects to link electronic data to provider actions and reporting.

While precision monitoring deals with the actual personalization of care, the goal of monitoring is to effectively put this data to use. The project investigators will report on Veteran satisfaction and the effects on the patient and medical team when actionable EHR-based data is used for treatment.

Through PRIS-M, investigators hope to identify flaws in the precision medicine system and encourage medical leaders, the VA and Veterans to use the system to enhance their healthcare needs.

"The VA is the single largest provider of healthcare in the United States with a wealth of patient information and a single unified electronic health record. It is ideally poised to apply precision monitoring to transform care and outcomes for veterans and to exert national leadership in this important area," said VA and Regenstrief researcher Linda S. Williams, MD, PRIS-M's other principal investigator.

Researchers will closely monitor each branch of the project for effectiveness and impact, Williams says. Each is equipped with specialized programs to measure progress. For example, informatics tools such as a national electronic quality indicator report that graphs PRIS-M gains in the VA.

Each project "has specific impacts and outcomes that are typically looking at whether providers use the data more often and or more effectively, whether the use of data changes the team culture and provider satisfaction, and whether process of care and patient outcomes are improved among facilities that use the new tools versus those that do not," Williams told Healthcare IT News.

Regenstrief Institute, closely associated with Indiana University School of Medicine and Wishard-Eskenazi Health, is a healthcare research organization whose mission is improving the quality of healthcare and patient safety through patient-centered research.

[See also: FDA unveils precision medicine platform]