Our current research

CATALYST is a center within The Ohio State University College of Medicine focused on advancing research and discovery at Ohio State in the delivery of health services (T3) across the continuum of care using a team science approach. A sampling of our current research, organized by topic, is presented below. We also maintain a collection of publications by CATALYST affiliated faculty and staff on PubMed.

Defining our work

Health Services Research is a “multidisciplinary field of scientific investigation that studies how social factors, financing systems, organizational structures and processes, health technologies, and personal behaviors affect access to health care, the quality and cost of health care, and ultimately, our health and well-being.” This definition was developed by the Board of Directors of the Association for Health Services Research, now the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy.

Implementation Science is defined by the journal Implementation Science as “the scientific study of methods to promote the systematic uptake of research findings and other evidence-based practices into routine practice, and, hence, to improve the quality and effectiveness of health services and care.”

Patient Portals

Patient Portals

Patient portals are emerging as important tools to support patient care, and they are increasingly being adopted in hospitals and outpatient settings. However, best practices concerning the implementation, use and impact of these portals are poorly understood. This line of research is helping researchers and hospital managers in efforts to implement, use and assess the impact of patient portals.

High Tech High Touch (HT2)
This project examines how inpatient portals impact the inpatient stay. Our team is specifically interested in how training affects a patient’s engagement with the portal, as well as how the portal changes communication pathways between patients and providers.

Portals in Inpatient Care (PIC)
This project examines the usability of the patient portal from the perspectives of both patients and providers. We have conducted numerous interviews with patients regarding their opinions on patient portals, as well as interviews with providers on how the technology impacts their workflow. Additional work has included usability studies and analysis of portal log files to better understand how these portals are used.

Developing Training about Patient Portal “Rules of Engagement”
This study seeks to identify potential elements of patient portal training and improve our understanding of patient and provider preferences related to training. Specifically, the aims of this study are, first, to identify potential elements to be included in training from the perspectives of both patients with a portal account and primary care physicians who are frequent portal users and, second, to engage a patient advisory group to develop a set of guidelines that could be implemented in a practice setting as part of a future research effort.

Patient Engagement

Patient Engagement

Patient engagement has been called the next “blockbuster drug” due to its potential to improve health outcomes and potentially generate significant health care savings. With the strong emphasis on engaging patients as partners in, and often drivers, of their health care, patient engagement is seen as a necessary component in achieving the triple aim of improved experience of care, improved health of populations and lower per capita health care costs.

Total Engagement and Activation Measure (TEAM)
This study aims to develop a validated tool for measuring patient engagement. This project will thus provide health care institutions, providers, insurers and researchers with the ability to determine who in their population is engaged in their health care and help develop programs and interventions to improve engagement and activation.

Patient Engagement Among Patients with Chronic Cardiopulmonary Conditions
This study seeks to improve our understanding and measurement of patient engagement, particularly among patients dealing with chronic cardiopulmonary conditions. Our study has three primary aims. First, we aim to modify and test a patient engagement survey for use in the outpatient setting that is currently administered only in the inpatient setting. Second, we aim to examine the relationship between patient engagement and health outcomes. Third, we aim to understand the perspectives of patients with chronic cardiopulmonary conditions related to patient engagement to inform future intervention efforts to increase patient engagement.

Data Integration and Analysis

Data integration and analysis

The ever-increasing amount of data available publicly or generated via an institution presents opportunities for knowledge generation. Our recent work involves a variety of datasets, as explained below.

Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)
HINTS is a national survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) examining the types of cancer information the American public accesses and consumes. Our group has generated a longitudinal dataset that combines multiple years of the HINTS data, allowing for the investigation of changes in how the U.S. population views and researches cancer-related information.

Patient Portal Log-file Analysis
To improve our understanding of patient use of both inpatient and outpatient portals, our group has developed methods to quantify patient usage of portals in both hospital and ambulatory settings. These methods enable us to paint a picture of when patients engage with the portal and what features they use most frequently. Patient usage data provides feedback about what features patients find most useful and uncovers patterns in user behavior. This feedback can be communicated to care teams and administrators to strengthen the integration of technology in the patient experience. In addition to providing insight to the organization itself, analysis of user behavior also forms a basis for academic research into patient engagement with portal technologies.

Community-Oriented National Trends Study To Evaluate Extant Health Behaviors (CONTEXT)
The CONTEXT study seeks to extend existing knowledge of health belief, communication and information seeking behaviors. CONTEXT integrates multiple versions of the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS), a comprehensive nationally representative survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute, with data sources that will enhance our understanding of how context impacts behaviors. This project offers a systematic approach to validating what we think we know, advancing into areas where we know little, while seeking to build research that leverages existing data to test hypotheses and answer novel cancer control and prevention questions in ways that cannot be accomplished without data integration.

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Taxonomy
This project involves the development and application of a classification scheme (i.e., taxonomy) to describe the PCORI-funded portfolio to internal staff and external stakeholders. The taxonomy is intended to assist with answering descriptive questions about the composition of the portfolio, including trends that emerge over time. In addition to describing PCORI funding, the taxonomy is intended to support strategic decision making related to PCORI funding, with a goal of funding research to improve the quality and relevance of evidence available to help patients, caregivers, providers, employers, insurers and policymakers make informed health decisions.

Infant and Maternal Mortality

Infant and maternal mortality

In 2016, the U.S. ranked 29th among the 35 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in the area of infant mortality, with 5.9 infant deaths per 1000. Further, while the infant mortality rate (IMR) average across the nationfor white babies is five deaths per 1000, this rate is 11 per 1000 for black babies. Our group has devoted many hours to help reduce this gap in IMR.

Ohio Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative (OIMRI) Project 1

The primary goal of this project was to determine the effectiveness of a home visit program on birth outcomes in Ohio. Our evaluation was organized as a responsive, mixed-methods approach. Specifically, we addressed social determinants of health, OIMRI Infant Mortality Research Partnership outreach and engagement of high-risk populations, utilization of health services, quality of care and health outcomes and disparities. Additionally, we provided information on processes in place at each OIMRI intervention site, outcomes currently assessed through OIMRI intervention sites, OIMRI participant data linked to birth records and linkages to data available through the Infant Mortality Research Partnership.

Ohio Infant Mortality Reduction Initiative (OIMRI) Project 2

This project will evaluate multiple programs aiming to improve birth outcomes and reduce racial disparities in infant deaths across nine Ohio counties. Specifically, we will oversee the collection and evaluation of data related to processes and outcomes of note involving health care utilization, family planning and births.

Implementation Science Assessment of the Merck for Mothers Obstetric Emergency Safety Bundles Program

The aim of the Merck for Mothers (MfM) implementation assessment project was to understand the implementation strategies for obstetric emergency safety bundles, including the facilitators and barriers to implementation experienced by the participating partners. A secondary aim was to corroborate the experience of the organizational partners with the experiences of hospitals where obstetric safety bundles were implemented. The overall goal of this evaluation was to provide recommendations on best practices for the implementation of the obstetric safety bundles for future dissemination efforts for both partners and hospitals.

Ohio Equity Institute (OEI)
The overall goal of this evaluation effort is to examine the extent to which newly implemented programs (Centering Pregnancy, Home Visiting and Community Health Workers) serve high-risk Medicaid enrolled pregnant women and to assess the effect of these interventions on health care utilization and birth outcomes.

Patient Safety and Quality Improvement

Patient safety and quality improvement

Patient safety and quality improvement are areas of ongoing focus for CATALYST. The increasing importance of data, patient input/satisfaction and management practices in achieving the highest levels of care have positioned our group to be successful in this field of research.

Institute for the Design of Environments Aligned for Patient Safety (IDEA4PS)
The Institute for the Development of Environments Aligned for Patient Safety (IDEA4PS) sought to use systems approaches to bring together multidisciplinary teams to generate new ways of looking at information and data aimed at improving patient safety. Twenty-three investigators from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and beyond participated in this Patient Safety Learning Laboratory, proving how the university works together for patient safety. Learn more about the current IDEA4PS projects.

Evaluation of the MEDTAPP Healthcare Access Initiative
The Medicaid Technical Assistance and Policy Program (MEDTAPP) Healthcare Access Initiative (HCA) prepares current and future health professionals to serve Medicaid beneficiaries and to work in underserved communities. Specifically, the MEDTAPP HCA supports health care professional recruitment and retention through innovative teaching and training programs that focus on behavioral health, community health workers, interprofessional education and community‐based experiences to increase access to care for Medicaid and underserved populations.

Management Practices in Health Care

Management practices in healthcare

Searching for Management Approaches to Reduce HAI Transmission (SMART)
This project is designed to identify the organizational and structural practices that are associated with better performance at reducing and preventing health care-associated infections (HAIs). This five-year project is focused on central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSIs) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs), and involves both intensive care units (ICUs) and medical/surgical units. We aim to create a generalizable management practice toolkit that can then be leveraged in the improvement of other HAI outcomes. You can read more about the effort in an interview with PI Ann McAlearney, ScD, MS, in Infection Control Today.

Nurse Practitioner Utilization Project (NP UP)
This study aims to gain insight about organizational influence over nurse practitioner practice patterns in primary care. The Nurse Practitioner (NP) Utilization Project is analyzing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) outpatient dataset to identify organizational factors associated with high utilization of NPs in caring for diabetic patients. Once these organizational factors are identified, we will use a qualitative process to interview NP practice experts in an effort to lend context to our findings.