Improving Health Care
Much of the research conducted in the Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics centers on health care in a variety of clinical settings, including
hospitals, clinics and dentists’ offices. Below you will find a sampling of our current research endeavors.
Building Statewide Health Care Research Infrastructure
Several faculty members in the Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics are involved in the OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium, a new statewide initiative that focuses on community-based clinical trials and implementation science. Betsy Shenkman, Ph.D. and chair of the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy, is the principal investigator of a $1.6 million grant from the Florida Department of Health’s James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program that aims to provide support for infrastructure development as well as fund the implementation of a tobacco cessation project in clinics across the state. The tobacco cessation project will help combat the 28,600 deaths annually from cigarette use in Florida, as well as reduce the estimated $19.6 billion in health care costs and productivity loss due to tobacco-related diseases in the state each year.
The OneFlorida Clinical Research Consortium, which is led by the University of Florida Clinical and Translational Research Institute and includes the University of Florida, Florida State University and the University of Miami, was developed to address the need for research and support to translate the evidence-base gained in academic environments to the community practices of Florida. Its central aim is to facilitate a multi-way exchange of information between academic health research teams, community practices and patients and thereby accelerate the translation of health care research findings to diverse health care settings across the state. OneFlorida partners encompass 22 hospitals, 416 clinic settings and 3,250 physician providers, which provide care for more than 10 million patients across Florida’s 67 counties. Together, OneFlorida partners cover 39 percent of the patient population in what will soon be the nation’s third largest state, including three majority-minority metropolitan areas (Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami) and rural practices throughout the state.
The Right Tools: Helping Providers Improve Children’s Oral Health
Even though scientists in the Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics have shown that a new Medicaid policy allowing primary care providers to treat tooth decay drastically increases the likelihood of young children receiving vital oral health care (see Analyzing Policy), studies show providers routinely miss visible plaque and skip oral health screenings altogether. In order to address this disconnect, Institute scientists are working with providers to create toolkits so that the best methods in oral health care are put into practice and costly, painful tooth decay is prevented in young children.
Locating Barriers to Vaccination
Although the HPV vaccine prevents most cervical cancers, only 53 percent of adolescent girls were vaccinated in 2011. Faculty members in the Department of Health Outcomes and Implementaion Science sought to understand what prevents doctors from administering the vaccine. What they found was that doctors had different barriers depending on patients’ ages. With all but the oldest patients, providers in this study expressed reluctance to speak about sexually transmitted infections (STIs) with parents. In addition, family medicine physicians were more reluctant than pediatricians to recommend the vaccine. Our faculty members are working to address these and other barriers to improving young women’s health care.