New frontiers: Health services research at Ohio State expands into neurology

By Tyler Griesenbrock
CATALYST scientific editor

The Ohio State University Department of Neurology recently welcomed two new members to its team, and in coordination with CATALYST, they will lead a newly created Neurological Health Services Research Division.

Kevin Kerber, MD, and Jim Burke, MD, arrive from the University of Michigan Health System. Dr. Burke said he is excited for the new collaborative opportunities available with the existing health services research infrastructure at Ohio State.

“Every single health services theme is relevant to neurology, and neurologic problems are at the core of a huge number of big systems issues,” Dr. Burke said. “A lot of what we do are things that touch upon broader questions.”

For example, he said dementia is a neurological concern that brings with it myriad systems-based implications. Some clinicians may not be comfortable with neurological diagnoses, there are questions about how patients navigate the context of being neurologically disabled, and even the rise of increasingly expensive medications can lead to systems-based questions.

“My skillset and the problems I’ve worked on have touched on many of these issues,” Dr. Burke said. “One of my goals is to think through that with the health services research community here, reprioritize, and figure out what problems we should go after.”

He said he is eager to work with CATALYST faculty and staff to build on the existing collaborative culture.

“Trying to come into a new place that has a very unique and potentially powerful collaborative culture, and trying to figure out how to humbly participate in that, is my core goal,” he said. “Get to know us and work though some problems together and see where this goes.”

His current research interests include using simulation modeling to understand optimal blood treatment algorithms; factors giving rise to post-stroke outcome disparities by race; and the implications of end-of-life treatment preferences on patient outcomes, especially when longer survival may be accompanied by severe disability.

Also among their plans for their new positions at Ohio State is the development of a scholars program to develop health services research and health services researchers.

“What are the questions we should think about asking that we’re not?” he asked. “Let’s chat. I’d love to hear what everyone is up to.”