OHSU Family Medicine receives $13.4 million AHRQ award

Deborah Cohen, Ph.D., to lead evaluation of heart health in primary care

May 26, 2015

Dr. Debbie CohenOHSU Family Medicine and a team of researchers from across the country received a $13.4 million federal grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to evaluate efforts to help primary care practices use the latest evidence to improve the heart health of millions of Americans. This initiative, EvidenceNOW – Advancing Heart Health in Primary Care, supports the broad U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) effort for Better Care, Smarter Spending, and Healthier People, and is aligned with the Departments’ Million Hearts® national initiative to prevent heart attacks and strokes.   

“The goal of the EvidenceNOW initiative is to give primary care practices the support they need to help patients live healthier and longer,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “By targeting smaller practices, we have a unique opportunity to reduce cardiovascular risk factors for hundreds of thousands of patients, and learn what kind of support results in better patient outcomes.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. To successfully prevent heart attacks it is critical that health care professionals work with patients to adopt the ABCs of cardiovascular prevention: Aspirin use by high risk individuals, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol management and Smoking cessation. New evidence is continually evolving about how to best deliver the ABCs. The goal of this initiative is to ensure that primary care practices have the evidence they need and use it to help patients live healthier and longer.   

EvidenceNOW establishes seven regional cooperatives composed of public and private partnerships and multidisciplinary teams of experts that will each recruit and engage 250-300 small, independent primary care practices and provide quality improvement services typically not available to them because of their size. These services include onsite practice facilitation and coaching, expert consultation, shared learning collaboratives and electronic health record support.  

The practices will include about 5,000 primary care professionals serving approximately 8 million people. Led by OHSU’s Deborah Cohen, Ph.D. (above), associate professor of family medicine, OHSU School of Medicine, the evaluation team will study the impact of the EvidenceNOW interventions on practice improvement and the delivery of cardiovascular care. In addition, the evaluation team will study which practice supports and quality improvement strategies are most effective in improving the implementation of new evidence.

“The goal of the EvidenceNOW National Evaluation is to pull together lessons from the regional collaboratives in a careful and rigorous way to share findings to accelerate evidence-based practice across the nation,” Dr. Cohen said. “We have the opportunity to learn how sustainable quality improvement infrastructure is built across the U.S. for smaller practices.”

The OHSU evaluation study team consists of researchers from the following partners: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick, N.J.; University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston - School of Public Health, Dallas Regional Campus, Texas; HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research in Minneapolis; Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland; University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb.; and Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown, Pa.

Dr. Cohen’s team at OHSU includes Department of Family Medicine faculty members Patricia Carney, Ph.D.; Miguel Marino, Ph.D.; and Sarah Ono, Ph.D.; and John McConnell, Ph.D., director, OHSU Center for Health Systems Effectiveness*. The OHSU School of Medicine is ranked fifth in the nation for family medicine by U.S. News & World Report. The Department of Family Medicine provides patient care, research, student and resident education, leadership and community service.
The seven implementation grants will run for three years and the evaluation grant for four years. Together, these grantees represent one of the largest research investments to date by AHRQ. For more information about AHRQ’s EvidenceNOW initiative, including details on each of the grantees and cooperatives, visit the EvidenceNOW website.

EvidenceNOW supports AHRQ’s overall mission to ensure that evidence is understood and used. Funding for this initiative comes from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund created by the Affordable Care Act and supports AHRQ’s mandate to disseminate and implement patient-centered outcomes research findings so that new findings are integrated into the delivery of health care.  

For more information about Million Hearts, visit the Million Hearts website.
  • Patricia Carney, Ph.D., is professor of family medicine, OHSU School of Medicine
  • Miguel Marino, Ph.D., is assistant professor of family medicine, OHSU School of Medicine
  • Sarah Ono, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine, OHSU School of Medicine
  • John McConnell, Ph.D., is research associate professor of emergency medicine, OHSU School of Medicine

Related news

The AHRQ award will also support Healthy Hearts Northwest, the Northwest Collaborative's EvidenceNOW project. The Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network at OHSU will lead the State of Oregon's work by selecting 130 primary care practices to improve heart health. Read more in this GroupHealth Research Institute announcement.