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InHealth Awards $1.4 Million To Investigate Socioeconomic Impact Of Medical Technologies

The Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth) has awarded three new research grants totaling more than $1.4 million to investigators at the University of Southern California, Northwestern University, and Stanford University. The funding will support three separate studies that will examine the social and economic impact of therapeutic medical devices, as well as the device innovation process.

The grants support InHealth’s research mission to develop objective data and add perspective to understanding the impact of medical technologies on patients, healthcare professionals, and the healthcare sector at large.

Researchers will examine how medical technologies such as continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps affect diabetic patients’ quality of life and productivity; how to measure the effectiveness of medical technologies used to treat chronic wounds; and the roles of clinicians in the innovation process for medical technologies.

According to Martyn Howgill, executive director of InHealth, research into the socioeconomic impact of medical technology sheds light on the future of medical innovation and is invaluable in an era of healthcare reform.

“Examining the innovation process from beginning to end—from the roles of clinicians in developing new products to the technology’s long-term effects—gives physicians and policymakers the knowledge and evidence they need to make the best-informed decisions for patients and the public,” he says. “It also feeds information back into the innovation process, allowing for the development of even more effective medical technology.”

This is the fourth set of grants awarded by InHealth since it began funding research in 2005. To date, InHealth has allocated more than $8 million toward research grants. Findings from this new round of studies are expected in 2010 and 2011.

University of Southern California to Develop Registry, Examine Effects of Devices for Diabetics:

Intensive management of diabetes can prevent premature death and improve quality of life for diabetic patients, who represent more than 8% of the US population. While insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors offer patients an effective way to manage their diabetes, little is known about how these devices affect quality of life and productivity. Dana P. Goldman, PhD, will receive $879,808 over two years to study how medical technology affects workplace productivity, health outcomes, quality of life, and functional status of diabetic patients. Researchers will develop a Web-based, longitudinal registry of patients aimed at enabling improvement of treatment patterns, effectiveness, and adherence to effective technology.

Northwestern University to Develop Conceptual Model of Impact of Wound Care Technologies:

As a major source of morbidity and mortality, chronic wounds and their management represent a substantial burden to the healthcare system, costing the nation up to $25 billion a year. Medical technologies have greatly improved the effectiveness of wound care and reduced healing time for many patients, but the effects, benefits, and costs of such new technologies have never been quantitatively measured. John H. Linehan, PhD, was awarded a one-year grant of $249,269 to develop a comprehensive, decision-analytic modeling framework that will enable researchers to assess the impact of innovative technologies in the treatment of chronic wounds. Effects on the individual patient level will be extrapolated to the population level, enabling a larger view of the efficacy of existing devices, the implications of emerging wound care technologies, and the opportunities for targeted design of future clinical trials.

Stanford University to Examine the Roles of Clinicians in Medical Device Innovation:

With recent political and legislative developments suggesting that clinicians’ involvement in medical innovation requires greater scrutiny, the need to accurately measure the benefits of clinician and company collaboration has never been greater. With an InHealth grant of $330,623 over 18 months, Stefanos A. Zenios, PhD, will develop a conceptual model that examines the roles that clinicians play in the medical device innovation process—whether as inventors, clinical investigators, company directors, or other roles—and quantifies the impact of efforts that would dampen physician-company collaborations. While prior research used patents to measure clinicians’ impact, Zenios’s study will measure impact through FDA approval and the successful commercialization of devices.