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Halladay, Cummings Lead a multi-site PCORI Study to Improve Blood Pressure Control testing the effectiveness of using a technology enhanced and interprofessional model of care

Jacqueline Halladay, MD, MPH, from UNC Family Medicine, and Doyle “Skip” Cummings, PharmD, FCP, FCCP, from ECU Brody School of Medicine, and are leading a five-year, $5.6 million dollar 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 the state of 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 Dr. Halladay and Cummings as the overall leaders for this project. Dr. 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, per Halladay. The team will work in 13 primary care practices in NC, enrolling ~ 780 patients with high blood pressure, with at least 50% of participants being those that identify as non-White race.

“I have wanted to do a study like this for a long time based upon experiences in research, clinical medicine and public health,” states Halladay. “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 health care 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 Dr. Margaret Helton 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 Sheps Center will be the study’s data coordinating center, responsible for building the tailored participant tracking and data collection systems. The Sheps Integrated Research Solutions (SIRS) and Data Analytics teams have been collaborating with researchers in these efforts for over 14 years. Brian Cass, the Deputy Director for IT at Sheps, remarked that “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. 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.