ST. LOUIS - Saint Louis University has been chosen to be a part of a select team of research institutions in the Battelle Women and Children's Healthcare Partnership - a multi-million dollar partnership funded by the Federal Government's Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ).
|Leigh Tenkku, Ph.D.|
According to Leigh Tenkku, Ph.D., professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University and principal investigator of the project at SLU, the partnership reflects a new trend in research funding aimed at fast tracking research into practice.
"In today's research climate, investors want fast, evidence-based results. They want solutions that are practical and sustainable. And most importantly, they want to fund projects that will make a real difference in people's health. This partnership is designed to do all of these things," Tenkku said.
The partnership is a part of AHRQ's ACTION II (Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Networks) project, which is aimed at improving health care in the U.S. through innovations in the way it is delivered and organized.
ACTION II uses a task-order contract model meaning that AHRQ will issue task orders to Battelle Memorial Institute, an organization that manages more than $5 billion annually in research and development. Battelle will then issue the request to the 11 research partners, which will have the opportunity to respond. Typical task order grants will range from $250,000 to $500,000. The current contract is a three-year contract with the possibility of a two year extension.
"Being a member of the Battelle Women and Children's Healthcare Partnership gives us a seat at the table. We hope that the strength of our team as well as the amount of overall funding coming to the networks will lead to significant future work," Tenkku said.
The other participating institutions in the Battelle Women and Children's Partnership include: Arkansas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Duke University, Emory University, Nationwide Children's Hospital, Ohio State, University of Arizona, University of Miami, University of Texas Southwestern and Washington University. All 11 research institutions already work together as partners in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Children's Study.
"This partnership grew from Battelle's existing National Children's Study partner institutions and holds great potential for SLU researchers. There will be opportunities to initiate new projects as well as to participate in multi-institution efforts initiated by others in the network. Such alliances can have spin-offs that last well beyond current funding," said Louise Flick, DrPH, professor of epidemiology at Saint Louis University School of Public Health and co-principal investigator.
The Battelle partnership will focus primarily on innovations in health care for women and children. According to Tenkku, task orders will focus on a broad range of topics including patient safety, health information technology, the organization and coordination of patient care, disease prevention, health literacy and emergency preparedness.
"The goal of ACTION II is to identify practical solutions to health care challenges. A typical ACTION II task order could look at the comparative effectiveness of the patient-centered medical home model to coordinate primary and specialty care. Or, AHRQ could issue a task order to develop strategies to educate women in a clinical setting on the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant," Tenkku said.
"The one thing all projects will have in common is that they will be evidence based, meaning the ideas will be studied and scrutinized to understand how and why strategies work or don't work; and how to increase the likelihood that they will be successfully implemented in broader practice settings."
While the scope of ACTION II is broad, Tenkku says the unique model will enable AHRQ to test ideas quickly and in a broad clinical setting. Whereas in traditional research models it can take 10 years or more to see a new idea from concept to implementation, ACTION II task orders will be awarded within six months of release and then completed in 18-20 months of the award date.
"By pre-selecting research institutions, AHRQ can fast track the research process without cutting corners," Tenkku said.
The Battelle partnership is one of 17 research partnerships to receive an ACTION II contract from AHRQ. Together, these partnerships include more than 350 collaborating organizations, in all 50 states, and care for an estimated 50 percent of the U.S. population.
AHRQ anticipates funding for ACTION II to be similar to its predecessor, ACTION, which awarded approximately $74 million in funds to almost 100 projects between 2006 and 2010.
The goal of ACTION II is to improve the health care in the U.S. through innovations in the way it is delivered and organized. To achieve this, ACTION II grants will fund projects that:
- Test new interventions and approaches to improve the way health care is provided in the U.S.
- Take innovations that have been demonstrated to work in previous smaller-scale studies and test them in larger clinical settings.
- Mainstream proven health care innovations.
- Test the sustainability of new approaches and interventions.
To learn more about ACTION II, go to http://www.ahrq.gov/research/action.htm
Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit university ranked among the top research institutions in the nation. The University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 13,000 students. Founded in 1818, it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi and the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States. Through teaching, research, health care and community service, Saint Louis University has provided one-of-a-kind education, leadership and service for nearly two centuries.