Jacqueline Halladay, MD, MPH, from UNC Family Medicine, and Doyle “Skip” Cummings, PharmD, from the ECU Brody School of Medicine, are leading a five-year, $5.6 million Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant where the team aims to understand if a technology-enabled team-based approach results in greater blood pressure control compared to usual care in populations of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure. Brian Cass, the deputy director of data management and information technology at the Cecil G Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC-Chapel Hill is leading the data coordinating work. Strategic partners include primary care physicians, pharmacists, nutritionists and researchers from both schools, as well as diverse clinical sites throughout North Carolina.
Barbara Pullen Smith, PhD, the once founding director of the NC Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, will lead the community and stakeholder groups and serve with Halladay and Cummings as the overall leaders for this project. Pullen Smith’s work is and will continue to be critical to designing the study and sharing the results with people most impacted by high blood pressure. The team will work in 13 primary care practices in NC, enrolling around 780 patients with high blood pressure, with at least 50% of participants being those that identify as non-white.
“I have wanted to do a study like this for a long time based upon experiences in research, clinical medicine, and public health,” Halladay said. “What inspires me most is the excitement of the people who work in the participating practice sites and other stakeholders who are willing to help us design and implement the project in their settings. They seem excited to find out if a technology-enabled and team-based care approach can enhance outcomes for patients and healthcare team members alike.
The team based much of their approach on the directives and information included in the National Academies’ 2021 report Implementing High-Quality Primary Care – Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care. Halladay notes UNC Family Medicine Chair Margaret Helton, MD, asking the UNC Family Medicine department faculty to read the report and consider how to embed the report’s findings and suggestions in our many efforts.
The UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research will be the study’s data coordinating center, responsible for building the tailored participant tracking and data collection systems. The center’s Integrated Research Solutions and Data Analytics teams have been collaborating with researchers in these efforts for over 14 years.
“This innovative project offers us the opportunity to integrate our system with those of commercial blood pressure devices to offer providers real-time patient data in a powerful way,” Cass said. “The customized dashboard will show trends over time and provide an alert system for patients who need more immediate attention to help providers in North Carolina make the best decisions for and with their patients based on the best information.”
PCORI is the funding agency. It is a nonprofit research organization that funds comparative effectiveness research studies in the United States that are stakeholder engaged and patient-centered by design.