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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Emory and South Carolina to Receive $5.8 Million Research Funding by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Emory University, University of South Carolina, and South Carolina’s Department of Mental Health were approved to receive a $5.8 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study how best to engage individuals with mental disorders into outpatient care after discharge from the Emergency Department.

Patients with mental disorders are high users of emergency department (ED) services; however, after discharge, fewer than half of these patients successfully transition to outpatient care, with high rates of ED readmission. Programs that allow patients with mental disorders to successfully engage with outpatient care hold the potential to improve quality and outcomes of care for mental disorders, while increasing ED capacity to provide care for other urgent needs.

In an effort to address these barriers, Dr. Benjamin Druss, Rosalynn Carter Chair in Mental Health at the Rollins School of Public Health; Dr. Meera Narasimhan, associate provost for Health Sciences at the University of South Carolina as well as the South Carolina Department of Mental Health will lead a multisite, randomized study that will be the first to examine the potential benefits and tradeoffs between certified peer specialists and professionals in managing care transitions for patients with mental disorders after ED discharge.

“This study will help us begin to understand how certified peer specialists can help solve a pressing treatment need,” said Druss.  “The study findings will help patients, providers, and policymakers to understand the benefits and tradeoffs of using these two types of providers to facilitate care transitions in patients with mental illnesses, will inform the use of lay navigators for other health conditions, and will identify opportunities for cross training and multidisciplinary teams combining peer specialists and professionals.”

“Collaborative efforts to improve transitions of care have significant implications for improving quality, reducing costs, and promoting equitable access to health care for managing vulnerable populations,” stated Dr. Narasimhan.

“The South Carolina Department of Mental Health is thrilled to be a part of this PCORI funding award to improve patient care and potentially reduce healthcare utilization” said John Magill, state director.

The award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract. PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions.

“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options,” said PCORI Executive Director Dr. Joe Selby. “We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with the investigators to share the results.”

For more information about PCORI funding,