Boston Medical Center Gets Two Grants Worth $3.5 Million

The grants will help fund studies related to improving health care delivery.

Boston Medical Center Exterior

Boston Medical Center Exterior

Boston Medical Center (BMC) was awarded two Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grants this month: one to study the delivery of cancer care to patients who face socio-legal barriers, and one to test the effectiveness of integrative medical group visits (IMGV) for treating chronic pain. PCORI works to find ways to more effectively educate patients and health insurance providers about the types of medical care available for each individual patient.

BMC received two of nine awards, totaling more than $3.5 million in the health disparities category, which according to BMC officials, “illustrates the hospital’s commitment to deliver the most innovative health care to its patients.”

Tufts Medical Center had previously announced that Dr. John B. Wong, chief of the Division of Clinical Decision Making will receive a research award grant from PCORI of $1 million over the course of three years to fund his work improving comparative effectiveness research methods. PCORI also recently awarded money to the Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Institute. In fact, PCORI has committed a total of $304 million since 2012 to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research.

Dr. Tracy Battaglia, director of the Women’s Health Unit at BMC, will lead the cancer research project. Previous research shows that delays in care are common for low-income patients with socio-legal barriers, like unsafe housing, unlawful utility shutoffs, or the loss of employment. “We believe addressing socio-legal barriers to care will improve patient-reported outcomes and lead to more timely care delivery,” Battaglia says. “Because of widespread national availability of patient navigation and MLP [a nationally replicated program founded at BMC that assists healthcare teams in detecting and addressing patients’ socio-legal barriers to health] programs at hospitals serving vulnerable patients, this intervention can be quickly replicated to improve patient experience and survival.”

Dr. Paula Gardiner, assistant director of Integrated Medicine at BMC, and a family medicine physician at the hospital, will lead the research project on chronic pain. It will focus on reducing disparities to access effective non-pharmacological treatments for people from predominantly low-income minority backgrounds with chronic pain and associated conditions. “A growing body of evidence suggests that a group medical visit model is effective for treating chronic pain. If we show that IMGV is safe and effective, it has great potential as a new, patient-centered, group-visit model for managing chronic diseases,” Gardiner says.