UConn Receives Select Designation for Healthcare Research

The UConn School of Pharmacy received a 5-year designation as an Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to conduct research that assesses outcomes, comparative effectiveness and appropriateness of drugs, devices, and health care services. The systematic review research generated by these centers is used by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) in making health coverage and performance measure decisions that affects millions of patients nationwide. In addition, EPCs work with over 25 national medical, nursing, and pharmacy organizations to develop the evidence base for national guidelines for the care of patients that impacts care nationally.

Co-directors C. Michael White and Craig Coleman anticipate that annual project funding will be in the $1 million dollar range and will consist of three projects per year.  Projects under the Affordable Care Act could be as high as $3 to $5 million dollars annually. Other EPCs currently in the program include Brown, Vanderbilt, UNC, Oregon Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins, and USC, among others. UConn is the only university EPC that is not housed in a School of Medicine. The UConn EPC is part of the Health Outcomes, Policy, and Economics (HOPES) collaborative group. They, along with other faculty members and research fellows, use meta-analysis and economic models to look at the comparative effectiveness of certain drugs or to assess the long-term economic benefits to the health care system of, for example, choosing one drug over another.

Some members of the collaborative have specific research interests. White, for example, conducted studies in cardio-thoracic surgery and the use of statins. Coleman, on the other hand, considers himself to be “disease-state agnostic.” He is intrigued by study design and current methodology including ‘network meta-analysis’ that allows researchers to compare like drugs head-to-head, rather than matching them against placebos.  Coleman takes pride in the fact that the group has a reputation for delivering results on-time and within budget. He also appreciates the opportunities to work with fellows and students in small group settings. “I like that our students have the chance to be actively engaged in real research and are not only working on mock projects.” These projects can have long-term effects not only from a cost-savings standpoint, but also on patient health and safety.

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