Researchers at Brown University School of Public Health Awarded $5 million grant for learning health systems training to improve disability and chronic condition care

Together, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute have awarded a 5-year, $5 million grant to create the Learning Health systems training to improve Disability and chronic condition care (LeaHD) center at Brown University.

The new center will train a cadre of learning health systems scientists who will be poised to transform the delivery, quality and outcomes of care for persons with disability and chronic conditions by focusing embedded research on rehabilitation and long term services and supports (LTSS). LeaHD’s principal investigator is Linda Resnik, P.T., Ph.D., FAPTA, professor of health services, policy and practice at Brown’s School of Public Health. Resnik also serves as a research career scientist at the Providence VA Medical Center.

LeaHD’s mission is to improve the health-related quality of life of persons with disability and chronic conditions by addressing inequities in access to and quality of rehabilitation and LTSS. 

“Efforts to address these inequities have never been more important,” says Resnik. “Chronic conditions affect more than half of adults in the U.S., with 27% having multiple chronic conditions and one in four American adults living with a disability.” 

Resnik notes that these figures are steadily increasing, and disproportionately affect persons 65 years and older, those living in poverty and those from some racial or ethnic minority groups. “A learning health systems approach offers potential solutions by embedding knowledge and best practices into care delivery, thereby supporting improvement, innovation, and equity.”

Although located at Brown University, LeaHD is a collaborative effort of the Brown University School of Public Health, the University of Pittsburgh and Boston University, together with nine health system and health organization partners. LeaHD faculty include Professors Theresa Shireman and Rosa Baier of the Brown University School of Public Health; Professor Janet Freburger and Assistant Professors Elizabeth Skidmore and Christine McDonough of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh; as well as Professor Mary Slavin of the Boston University School of Public Health. 

To further LeaHD’s mission to advance care delivery, researchers have established meaningful and inclusive partnerships with nine health systems: American Health Care Association/National Association of Assisted Living, Boston Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, InnovAge, Intermountain Healthcare, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Lifespan, Spaulding, and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Working closely with these institutions, LeaHD researchers will identify and develop important questions focused on rehabilitation and LTSS for persons with disability and chronic conditions.

As a key component of its mission, the center will train a new generation of scientists in this field, recruiting and developing a diverse cadre of highly-skilled scientists poised to conduct embedded research. The center will provide mentored training for embedded scientists through core learning health systems research training, individualized training plans, and experiential learning. Along with this training, LeaHD will offer opportunities for embedded PCOR, CER, and D&I research through mentorship, offering methodological and operational expertise and support.