Northwestern University
to study sleep apnea

InHealth Awards Grants to Study Impact of Medical Devices on Patients

November 24, 2008
by Lynn Shapiro, Writer
The Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth) has awarded $1.7 million in grants over the next two years to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, Medical College of Georgia, Tufts University and the University of Houston.

The funding allows scientists to examine the economic and social impact of diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices in treating diseases and chronic medical conditions.

Researchers will explore the cost-benefit effects of insulin pumps, hearing aids, in-vitro diagnostics, genomic diagnostics for personalized medicine and devices used to treat sleep apnea.

"Health issues reduce the quality of life for millions of Americans while [putting] a heavy economic burden on both patients and the health care system," said InHealth executive director Martyn Howgill.

He said this is the third round of grants awarded since InHealth began funding research in 2005.

Current studies that have appeared or await publication in peer-reviewed journals focus on: total hip and knee replacements, cardiac stents, implantable defibrillators, neonatal care and diagnostic imaging.

Findings from this new round of research, expected in 2009 and 2010, include the following:

Johns Hopkins Researchers Study Preferences for Hearing Aids

An estimated 28 million people in the U.S. have a hearing impairment and it is predicted that by 2025, about 60 million people over age 65 will be hearing impaired. To better address previously reported underutilization and poor compliance of hearing aid use, Johns Hopkins University was awarded a one-year grant of $200,000 to study the economic value of hearing aids and associated technologies.

The research team will survey patients about their preferences in hearing aids and estimate the economic and quality-of-life repercussions that come from having a huge population of seniors who are using hearing aids.

Medical College of Georgia Examines the Socio-Economic Impact of Insulin Pumps

The research team will compare patients who use insulin pump therapy to patients using injection insulin therapy. Researchers expect to draw conclusions about how the ability to control glucose using a pump rather by injection enhances patient life-style.

Northwestern University to Assess Technology for Sleep Apnea

According to the Institute of Medicine, as many as 6 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, a severe sleep disorder that can lead to obesity, diabetes, stroke and depression.

Northwestern researchers will come up with findings about the role of medical technology in diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea. The team will explore cost-effectiveness as well as who has access to diagnostic and therapeutic technology to treat sleep apnea.

Researchers will build a predictive model to assess the effects of improved diagnosis and treatment of the condition that can be used for future policy and technology development.

Tufts University Measuring the Value of Diagnostic Technology

Diagnostic testing continues to be one of the fastest growing fields in health care, driven in part by evidence that these technologies improve survival for patients by assisting in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

The value of diagnostic technology, however, is often poorly documented or understood. The nation's escalating health care costs have prompted policy-makers to call for stronger clinical and economic evidence of improved patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness before expensive diagnostic tools, such as imaging systems, are used.

University of Houston to Analyze How Patients Value Genomic Devices

Personalized medicine is increasingly being adopted into clinical practice, but there has been little research to understand how testing and the prescribing of drugs will be adopted by patients.

Researches will analyze the willingness of patients from different socio-economic backgrounds to use genomic devices for tailoring drug-prescription, including the willingness to pay for novel genomic diagnostics.

Researchers will examine patient preferences when it comes to personalized medicine and the trade-offs that patients make in deciding whether to use pharmacogenomic testing, which identifies patients who are likely to have the most (or least) toxicity from a drug. The findings are expected to contribute to understanding of which technologies are used,how they are incorporated into medical practice, and who has access to this sophisticated technology.