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Professor awarded $7.3 million grant to examine community health care reform

Posted on Jun 18, 2013
Professor awarded $7.3 million grant to examine community health care reform

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Dennis Scanlon, professor of health policy and administration in the Penn State College of Health and Human Development, has been awarded a $7.3 million renewal grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The funding will enable Scanlon and his colleagues to continue their work to evaluate a RWJF national initiative called Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q). The program aims to improve health care quality by helping stakeholders -- patients, physicians, employers, insurers and others -- to work together to redesign communities' health systems to better serve patients.

Specifically, the researchers are evaluating the impact of the AF4Q program in 16 communities. In particular, they are focusing on whether the program resulted in changes in the care of those with chronic illnesses as well as improvements in structures and processes that can lead to improved health care outcomes and more affordable health care.

"While many people think about health reform at the national level, much of the innovation and experimentation is being done at the local level, within communities where different patients, insurers, employers and health care delivery systems interact," said Scanlon. "The AF4Q program has and will continue to provide a robust learning lab to identify changes -- in care delivery, in payment, in patient engagement -- that can serve as models for improving health care in other communities and the rest of the country. We are privileged to have the opportunity to systematically study this transformation as it unfolds."

Scanlon's research focuses on health systems improvement, broadly defined as the role of information, incentives and behavior change for improving health outcomes such as the quality and affordability of health care services. He is a recipient of The John D. Thompson Award for Outstanding Young Investigator in Health Services Research and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator in Health Policy Research Award. Scanlon’s research has been funded by a broad portfolio of sponsors, including the Centers for Disease Control, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, The California HealthCare Foundation, the Commonwealth Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is RWJF's signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide models for national reform.