The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is disbursing more then $22 million in grants to several projects that will analyze how telehealth has been and could be used to improve COVID-19 care and services.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is issuing more than $22 million in grants to several projects that asses how telehealth has been used during the coronavirus pandemic.

Seven programs were targeted for grants by the Washington-based non-profit, which aims to learn how different healthcare approaches have improved outcomes among people infected with COVID-19 and lessened the effects on certain populations and communities.

The four studies with specific connected health components are as follows:

  • Penn State University’s Hershey Medical Center will get $2.3 million to study how a Project ECHO telemedicine platform can be used to improve infection control in nursing homes;
  • The Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College of Cornell University will get $3 million to study how telehealth has been used to move primary care services from in-person to remote platforms, and how these services affect diverse populations, such as young people with chronic conditions. The study will recruit participants through the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (PCORnet).
  • The University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine will get $2.5 million to evaluate the effectiveness of the COVID Watch remote patient monitoring program, with a particular focus on how it’s used for care of Black and Latino patients and whether fingertip pulse oximetry is effective; and
  • The State University of New York will get $2.5 million to compare the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), delivered by a telemedicine platform or an mHealth app, for residents of low-income and ethnic minority neighborhoods who lack easy access to mental health care services;

In addition, PCORI is funding three other projects which may or may not have telehealth or mHealth components:

  • The University of California at San Francisco will get $5 million to study the effects of COVID-19-related policy decisions in seven states on people’s health and financial well-being, focusing on racial and ethnic minorities;
  • The RAND Corporation will get $4.9 million to study various strategies for improving the mental and physical well-being of health care workers, comparing typical methods with Stress First Aid, a peer-led program that can be delivered by people without mental health care training; and
  • The University of Southern California will get $2.5 million to study the effectiveness of co-locating housing and support services in a group housing facility against mobile case management services delivered to independent housing facilities located throughout the community.

 “These comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies on optimizing health care and health outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic complement and enhance the research and development of new therapies and vaccines against the novel coronavirus,” PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH, said in a press release.

“While work continues to develop effective therapies and vaccines against COVID-19, it is equally vital to understand the impact of adaptations to health care delivery implemented in response to the pandemic and strategies to achieve the best possible outcomes during this time of crisis, particularly among underserved populations,” she said. “That is why PCORI acted quickly to make research funding available to strengthen our understanding of different approaches to mitigate COVID-19’s impact and provide evidence to inform clinical and public health responses, decision making and planning.”

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