PITTSBURGH – The UPMC Center for High-Value Health Care was recently awarded a $6.3 million contract from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study the benefits of technology on treating patients with inflammatory bowel disease and a co-existing behavioral health condition.
The focus of the five-year study is to better understand how to design systems to manage chronic disease and will compare a technology-centric approach with a team-based, high-touch intervention. The long-term objective is to help health care systems better support individuals with chronic diseases like IBD and behavioral health conditions, reduce variations in practice, connect patients with care that is best for them and improve meaningful, patient-centered health outcomes.
This PCORI study is related to a recently completed one-year pilot study, which showed that participation in an IBD specialty medical home, a care delivery model that is designed to provide comprehensive and well-coordinated health services, increases patients’ quality of life while decreasing levels of disease activity and use of unplanned care. That pilot study demonstrated a 50% decline in emergency room visits and a 30% decline in hospitalizations among participants.
“The early successes of the pilot study are encouraging and now this multi-year PCORI study will allow us to further align the payer and provider to develop long-term benefits and applications in a variety of clinical settings,” said Dr. William Shrank, chief medical officer for UPMC insurance services division, in a statement. “The use of technology as a key component of the study underscores the role that emerging trends will play in the future of health care.”
Participants who enroll in the study will receive IBD specialty medical home care through either a team-based or tech-based approach.
The team-based approach is a personalized service design that includes gastroenterologists, behavioral health specialists, registered nurses and health coaches who provide intensive, in-person support and resources. The tech-based approach leverages a digital platform using remote monitoring, digital behavioral interventions and telehealth to deliver team-based care at the patient’s convenience, at home and in the community, with the guidance of health coaches.
“By examining the effectiveness of a ‘team vs. tech’ approach, we expect that this research will provide insight on the most effective methods to provide both physical and behavioral health care to individuals with IBD and most importantly, a better quality of life for patients both now and into the future,” said Dr. Eva Szigethy, the principal investigator for the study, in a statement.