UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation awards more than $3.4 million in grants

The UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation distributed more than $3.4 million in grants July 1 to fund nine projects submitted by UC campuses, in hopes of improving health care and reducing costs.

As funding for health care decreases, finding ways to offer more efficient care to patients is a top priority for health care systems like the UC Center for Health Quality and Innovation, whose aims include enhancing patient care and setting guidelines for common practices that benefit communities and populations, said Terry Leach, executive director of the center.

Though decisions for which proposals to fund have been made, Leach said funding would not be distributed until Sept. 1.

Leach said one of the main purposes of the proposals is to enable university medical schools and centers to do more with less.

“As we are squeezed more and more, and as there are fewer dollars, we know we can be more efficient,” Leach said. “We can’t do a one-size-fits-all — we have to tailor to the needs of individual patients so their experience is the safest that it can be.”

After receiving over 100 proposals from UC medical centers and schools, Leach said she and other center staff made their decisions by examining whether the proposal could be carried out successfully, had a multicampus or multidisciplinary team and matched the center’s objective.

“These particular interventions are very important,” she said. “They’re areas that federal policymakers identified as ones hospitals have to do better in. We can also use them as a springboard to help faculty and staff learn how to become a generation of innovators.”

One proposal that has been chosen involves recruiting UC Berkeley undergraduates to work with UC San Francisco clinic patients to ensure they understand their condition and are fully informed when making difficult decisions regarding treatment, according to Jeff Belkora, the primary investigator and an assistant professor of surgery and health policy at UC San Francisco.

The grant money would be used to test whether the plan was feasible and could be long-term, Belkora said.

“The idea is that patients will get a good service that does improve their experience of care, that the clinics will benefit from having more patient-centered services like this, and students should benefit from this educational experience of shadowing patients,” Belkora said.

Another proposal dealt with collaboration between UC campuses to reduce re-admissions.

According to Ulfat Shaikh, the project primary investigator and an associate professor of pediatrics at UC Davis,  UC campuses with medical centers shared techniques for ensuring smooth transitions for patient discharging.

“The idea is to actually combine all the learning that the UCs have separately done into a powerful network that collaborates and learns from each other,” Shaikh said.