Researcher gets $4 million grant to study health care quality reform

University Park, Pa. -- Dennis Scanlon, associate professor of health policy and administration in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development, has been awarded a three-year, $4 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to expand an evaluation of a RWJF national initiative, "Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q)."

This grant is in addition to an original $3.4-million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2007 and expands the scope of the project. "AF4Q" aims to bring together patients, health-care providers and payers to turn proven practices for improving quality into real results. Through regional collaboratives, it aims to lift the overall quality of health, reduce racial disparities and provide models for national reform.

"Aligning Forces for Quality" is a $300 million initiative involving 14 community-based programs across the U.S.: the Healthy York County Coalition in York, Pa., and others based in Detroit, Mich.; Western New York; Wisconsin; Williamette Valley, Ore; Memphis, Tenn.; Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio; Humboldt County, Calif.; Kansas City, Mo.; Maine; Minnesota; Seattle, Wash.; and Western Michigan.

Community teams will strive to improve health-care quality for all patients by helping physicians improve the quality of care for patients and by giving consumers information that helps them partner with their doctors in managing their own health and in making informed choices about their health care. The community alliances also will work to improve care inside hospitals, with a special focus on the central role of nursing; and on reducing inequality in care for patients of different races and ethnicities.

The continued role of Scanlon and his research team will be to evaluate the impact of the AF4Q program in the 14 communities. In particular, they will focus on whether the program resulted in changes in the care of patients with chronic illnesses or in improvements in structures and processes that can lead to improved health care.

Funding for this study came from the RWJF Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research. A researcher on national efforts to reduce medical errors and improve health-care quality, Scanlon also has received funding from the Centers for Disease Control, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, The California HealthCare Foundation and the Center for Health Care Strategies Inc.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans. For more information, visit http://www.rwjf.org online.

Last Updated April 05, 2010