2018 Innovation Pilot Award Winners Announced

The UNC Center for Health Innovation is pleased to announce the winners of the sixth annual Innovation Pilot Awards. The center sought proposals from employees for innovations across a spectrum of areas including care delivery, new technology, advanced analytics, and more.

The UNC Center for Health Innovation is pleased to announce the winners of the sixth annual Innovation Pilot Awards. The Center sought proposals from employees for innovations across a spectrum of areas including care delivery, new technology, advanced analytics, and more!

Four winners emerged from twenty strong applications received from across UNC Health Care and the School of Medicine. The proposals demonstrated clear dedication to improving care for our patients and strengthening our health care system.

The winning teams include:

A Novel Steroid-Eluting Esophageal String for Treatment of Eosinophilic Esophagitis

  • PI:  Evan Dellon, MD (Medicine/Gastroenterology)    
  • Co-PI:  Rahima Benhabbour, PhD (Biomedical Engineering)
  • Co-PI: Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD (School of Veterinary Medicine/NCSU)

This team aims to be the first to apply drug-eluting technology to a string release system and the first to apply it to the esophagus.  The incidence and prevalence of eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) are rapidly rising and current treatments are rudimentary.  Drug-eluting string technology is an innovate approach to deliver medication along the entire length of the esophagus for an extended period of time.  The pilot award will be used to develop the technology and test its pharmacokinetics in a porcine model.

Innovation in Postpartum Care for Women with Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy: A Randomized Trial of Home-Versus Office-Based Blood Pressure Monitoring

  • PI:  Angelica Glover, MD (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
  • Co-PI:  Alison Stuebe, MD (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
  • Co-PI: Kristin Tully, PhD (School of Public Health)
  • Co-PI: Narges Farahi, MD (Family Medicine)

The focus of this project is to empower postpartum women affected by hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) to perform at-home blood pressure (BP) monitoring with the aid of digital technology.  For a postpartum woman with a diagnosis of a HPD, the risk of complications extends beyond discharge from maternity care.  Clinical guidelines recommend early postpartum follow-up in the form of a BP evaluation by a health care provider at 7-10 days postpartum.  However, due to numerous barriers faced by new mothers, attendance at follow-up visits is poor and reflects significant disparities.  This pilot project aims to measure adherence to the postpartum BP assessment among women who are provided with an at-home BP monitoring device and the feasibility of the use of such a device among a diverse population. 

Improving Financial Navigation Services in the North Carolina Hospital: a model for the UNC Health Care System

  • PI:  Donald Rosenstein, MD (Psychiatry)           
  • Co-PI:  Stephanie Wheeler, PhD, MPH (School of Public Health)

The goal of this project is to establish a novel, cost-effective, patient-centered financial navigation clinic in order to decrease the burden of financial trauma among uninsured and underinsured cancer patients treated at the North Carolina Cancer Hospital.  The team will use historical clinical and financial data to identify the patient population with the greatest financial burden in order to target them for the pilot.  Then, they will develop a financial distress screening strategy  and design, implement, and evaluate a financial navigation clinic for patients in the targeted population who screen positive for high levels of financial distress.  The team will collaborate with the UNC School of Social Work to staff the clinic with social work masters students. 

Machine Learning to Stage Patients with Peripheral Arterial Disease

  • PI:  Katharine McGingle, MD (Surgery)                   
  • Co-PI:  Corey Kalbaugh, MD (Surgery)

The overarching aim of this study is to stage peripheral arterial disease (PAD) similar to the tumor staging criteria used to communicate with oncology patients.  The spectrum of patients presenting with PAD is broad and treatment options are numerous.  The team hopes that PAD staging will help inform patients of their survival and limb salvage probabilities based on their presenting characteristics.  The team will initially focus on patients with critical limb ischemia by determining which covariates are associated with outcome status and then developing and evaluating a predictive model using machine learning that classifies subjects by outcome status. 

Thanks to all of the 2018 applicants for their interest and dedication, and congratulations to the winners.

Established by UNC Health Care and the UNC School of Medicine, the Center for Health Innovation initiates, evaluates and supports the adoption of disruptive, patient-centered innovations in the delivery and financing of health care. The Center strives to provide rapid assessment, coordinated facilitation, program management, partnership development and funding for innovation. To learn more, visit our webpage at www.med.unc.edu/innovation.

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