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August 27, 2014, 6:57 am

Smarter health care supported by new grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced a new wave of Health Care Innovation Awards in Pennsylvania.

Made possible by the Affordable Care Act, the awards will support 81 projects nationwide that are designed to deliver high quality medical care, enhance the health care workforce and save money. Combined with the awards announced in May, HHS has now made awards to 107 projects that intend to save the health care system an estimated $1.9 billion over the next three years.

“Thanks to the health care law, we are giving people in local communities the resources they need to make our health care system stronger,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Projects in Pennsylvania range from training advanced practice nurses to improving outpatient care for cancer patients and improving care for patients with depression and heart disease.

The trustees of the University of Pennsylvania will receive $4.8 million to improve medication adherence in recovering heart-attack patients in Philadelphia and its New Jersey suburbs, through telemonitoring and social workers who will be trained to monitor medication adherence and enlist support from family and friends.

The University of Pennsylvania will also receive $4.4 million to test comprehensive home care services in five metropolitan Philadelphia counties for Medicare and/or Medicaid beneficiaries with advanced cancer who are not yet eligible for hospice care. The program will provide in-home support, symptom management, crisis management and emotional support for patients so they can avoid being hospitalized.

Allentown and cities in four other states will benefit from a $14.3 million program run by Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey. The program expands team-based care management for high-cost, high-need, low-income populations. It will use nurse-led care management teams which include social workers and community health workers to assist patients with a wide variety of health and social service issues to stabilize them before transitioning them to local primary care medical homes.

The University of North Texas Health Science Center, in partnership with Brookdale Senior Living, is receiving $7.3 million to expand Brookdale Senior Living’s Transitions of Care Program for nursing home residents to independent living, assisted-living and dementia communities and others. At the end of three years, advanced practice nurses will be training care transition nurses in Pennsylvania and 34 other states to lower avoidable hospital admissions rates for residents in senior living.

The Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement will receive $18 million to improve care and outcomes for high-cost patients with Medicare or Medicaid coverage who have both depression and either diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The project, which will serve patients in Pennsylvania and eight other states, will use care managers and health care teams to assess condition severity, monitor care through a computerized system, provide relapse prevention, intensify or change treatment as warranted, and transition beneficiaries to self-management.

Innovative Oncology Business Solutions, Inc., which is comprised of seven community oncology practices in Pennsylvania and eight other states, will receive $19.8 million to develop medical homes for breast, lung or colorectal cancer patients to receive their cancer care, including comprehensive outpatient care and 24/7 access to care, leading to fewer unnecessary tests, avoidable emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Awardees were chosen for their innovative solutions to the health care challenges facing their communities and for their focus on creating a well-trained health care workforce that is equipped to meet the need for new jobs in the 21st-century health system. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contracted with an external organization with extensive experience in managing independent grant review processes to administer the award review process to ensure an objective review of each application.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within CMS will administer the awards through cooperative agreements over three years.


Contact staff writer Ayana Jones at (215) 893-5747 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .