January 29, 2014

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U of U Personnel Launch Project to Address Elderly Health Needs

Press Release

January 29, 2014

Salt Lake City — Two members of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah have created a project to identify and start addressing the unmet healthcare needs of the elderly and their caregivers. Their idea has earned them funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding research designed to give patients, caregivers and clinicians the information needed to make better healthcare decisions.

Dr. Debra Scammon, director of the school’s master of healthcare administration (MHA) program, and Christie North, a graduate of the school’s executive MBA program and member of the MHA program’s community advisory board, won the funding for a project called “Taking Care of Our Parents: Improving the Coordination of Care for Elderly Community Members.” It is one of 30 proposals funded by PCORI.

As the Baby Boomers grow into retirement age, more Americans today find themselves providing care for a sick or disabled loved one. No less than two of every five adults are providing care for a family member, and often both the caregiver and care recipient are over the age of 65. And that care is serious work, involving medical and nursing tasks, managing medications and operating complex medical equipment. Many elders too ill to be cared for at home have to navigate a combination of fragmented care from a variety of facilities, including rehabilitation clinics and long-term care outlets. Two-thirds of people who reach age 65 will need long-term care in their lifetime.

“We are both caregivers for family members and know some of the challenges,” said Scammon. “Our aim is to engage a community of patients and caregivers who have experience with the stresses of managing care needs of the elderly.”

Scammon and North’s project will include the creation of an advisory committee of experts in the field, as well as a series of community meetings with patients and caregivers to identify ways in which caregivers and elderly care recipients can be better supported. Their project is a first step in exploring and setting up a strategic plan for the budding elderly patient and caregiver community. As they identify improvements needed within the long-term care continuum that can impact elders’ health and improve their quality of care, they will work to develop ideas for proposals for future comparative effectiveness research studies that will build on their findings.

“Patients and other stakeholders have good ideas for healthcare questions that warrant study, and we want to help them develop partnerships and get involved in the research process,” said Anne Beal, PCORI’s Deputy Executive Director and Chief Officer of Engagement.

The “Taking Care of Our Parents” project was selected by a panel of patients, stakeholders and researchers, and will begin work in February. This award is among the first to be made through PCORI’s new Tier I Pipeline to Proposal program. These awards are intended to provide seed funds to encourage the development of partnerships and research project ideas among individuals and groups who want to take an active role in health research but may not have opportunities to do so. 

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