Researchers at Kansas University Medical Center will conduct three new research projects funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Created in 2010 to fund research that helps patients make better-informed health care decisions, the institute gave KU Med more than $10 million in December to complete research that produces findings that can be practically applied to enhancing human health.
The largest of the projects will use $7 million to create a data network for 10 medical centers to connect their electronic medical record systems. The network will allow a better system of data sharing for medical research while still respecting patient confidentiality.
Russell Waitman, director of medical informatics and assistant vice chancellor for Enterprise Analytics at KU Medical Center, will act as principal investigator on the project. He said the information sharing will allow for comparisons of treatments.
“This focuses on pragmatic solutions,” Waitman said. “We’ll find out what can be done today to improve patient care.”
A second project will use $1.5 million to study the effectiveness of four drugs used to treat peripheral neuropathy, a nerve condition that often causes tingling or burning sensations.
The project will analyze which drug works best and has the fewest side effects for patients whose neuropathy has no known cause.
Dr. Richard J. Barohn, chair of KU Medical Center's Department of Neurology, will lead the study. Barohn said that while neuropathy is commonly associated with diabetes, he wanted to look at patients with unknown causes because they are under studied.
A third project will study the quit rates of patients diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who use long-term nicotine replacement therapy and counseling to stop smoking.
COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis and can be made worse by smoking. The $1.5 million research project will analyze whether nicotine patches, gum and lozenges coupled with counseling help patients quit.
Dr. Edward Ellerbeck, professor and chair of KU Medical Center's Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health will lead the nicotine replacement study.
“These people are so addicted they’re smoking in spite of having a lung disease,” Ellerbeck said. “Right now we have no problem putting people on inhalers, but we’re not treating the addiction.”
The study will begin in April and Ellerbeck said it could make a big difference in the lives of COPD patients.
“This could mean making nicotine replacement therapy more of a standard of care,” Ellerbeck said. “It could have a profound effect on those with chronic lung disease.”
For more information on medical research or to see if you can participate in a study, visit pioneersresearch.org.