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Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis


Mulvale, O’Reilly receive Early Researcher Awards

15 Apr 2014

Two members of CHEPA’s faculty are among 11 McMaster professors to receive Early Researcher Awards (ERA) from the provincial government.

Gillian Mulvale, Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management at the DeGroote School of Business, and Daria O’Reilly, Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University and Faculty Lead of the MaRS Excellence in Clinical Innovation and Technology Evaluation (EXCITE) Program, within the Programs for Assessment of Technology in Health (PATH) Research Institute at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH), are among those recognized by the ERA as promising researchers with the potential to become world-class innovators. Both women joined CHEPA’s faculty in the summer of 2012.

The Early Research Award funds each recipient to a maximum of $140,000 by the provincial government, with matching funding of $50,000 from McMaster, over the next five years.

The ERA will enable O’Reilly to conduct research to find ways to spend resources more efficiently in treating diabetes. She notes that when health-care policy makers set policies for providing care for patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, they must assess a range of factors including determining the future demand for services, assessing the impact of new technologies on costs and outcomes, and estimating the effects of implementing prevention and management programs. Her research will take a three-pronged approach to addressing this challenge:

-       Developing an effectiveness database to store data on treatment pathways, treatment effect and the impact on risk factors produced by specific treatments and/or patient management.

-       Developing models for assessing the healthcare costs associated with managing diabetes and associated complications and the costs of treating acute events, such as hypoglycemia.

-       Assessing the outcome of various clinical interventions by their ability to extend patient lives as well as their impact on quality of life.

Mulvale’s work will use smartphone technology to help families and service providers deliver coordinated services for adolescents with mental illness. Her research seeks to learn from the experiences of adolescents with mental illness, their families and service providers to help design more coordinated services and better transitions from youth to adult care in Ontario.

She notes that existing services for adolescents with mental illness are poorly coordinated and many youth fall through the cracks when they transition to adult services. Her research will use smartphone technology to identify ways to improve adolescent mental health services, based on input from service users, families and service providers. The experiences of adolescent study participants will be gathered in real time using smartphones as they journey through multiple services, identifying important ‘touch points’ with youth, family members and providers. The findings will pin-point rules and barriers that impede access to services and the transition to adult programs. Youth family members and providers will then work together to co-design improved transitions at these touch points, consistent with an experience-based design approach.

Mulvale feels the cutting-edge data-gathering technology offered by smartphones, which puts the service user at the centre of data collection as they move between multiple services, and experience-based design approaches could have widespread application in other areas of health research -- particularly in the coordination of care across services, offering real-time support to people with chronic conditions – as well as in evaluation research.

She says her research complements other ongoing work that uses similar technology to support people with mental illness in Ontario, and will help establish the province as a leading centre for research on person-centred mental health care transitions. It will also provide important insights into health and social service transition challenges for other age groups, such as adults moving to seniors’ services.

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