Baystate’s Center for Quality of Care Research Receives Federal Grant

SPRINGFIELD — The Center for Quality of Care Research at Baystate Medical Center has been awarded one of the largest grants in the hospital’s history, an $829,164 allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support research into the effectiveness of care for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Baystate is one of six health-care organizations collaborating on the project, which aims to begin setting up a national network for study of best practices in care for patients with COPD. Better understanding of best practices in COPD care could lead to significant improvements in patients’ outcomes — and significant cost savings as the nation moves forward with health reform.

“COPD is the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. today, and is one of the primary causes for hospitalization as well,” said Dr. Peter Lindenauer, director of Baystate’s Center for Quality of Care Research and a principal investigator in the project. “Our aim in this initiative is to help translate medical and scientific knowledge of what works in COPD care into better implementation in actual practice. If we’re successful, this project will lay the groundwork for better care for patients everywhere.”

The collaboration is known as CONCERT (COPD Outcomes-based Network for Clinical Effectiveness and Research Translation) and, in addition to Baystate, involves the University of Chicago, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Washington, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research (Northwest Region).

Participation in the effort isn’t limited to doctors; in fact, a wide range of players in the health-reform process will have a seat at the table. Using input from patients, nurses, respiratory therapists, and even representatives of insurers and government payers, the CONCERT project aims to address the concerns of the entire health community. “We recognize the value of different perspectives in reaching solutions,” said Lindenauer.

COPD affects between 12 million and 24 million people in the U.S. and is expected to become the third-leading cause of death by 2020. It is estimated that COPD care costs the nation about $32 billion a year. But the effectiveness of COPD care has never before been rigorously analyzed.

That’s about to change with the CONCERT initiative, which has three main objectives: to create a national repository of information about patients with COPD using high-quality observational studies; to create a clinical registry of more-detailed information on a subset of volunteer patients, who could then be enrolled in clinical trials in the near future; and to develop research protocols, which would be the foundation for those clinical trials.

In 2008, Baystate Medical Center established the Center for Quality of Care Research, tasked with improving the care and outcomes of patients here and across the country by developing innovative methods to measure the quality and outcomes of care, evaluating the effectiveness of common treatments, and improving care delivery through the design, implementation, and assessment of new approaches in medicine.