Debbie Travers and Colleagues Earn Grant to Examine Impact of Electronic Health Records

Assistant Professor Debbie Travers, PhD, RN, FAEN, is part of a team that received funding from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to evaluate the Stage 3 Meaningful Use objectives proposed by the Federal government for electronic health records.The project, “Evalution of Stage 3 Meaningful Use Objectives”, will include researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University, and RTI International.

Meaningful Use refers to a set of standards that were created for EHRs by the federal government. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act gave the Department of Health and Human Services the authority to establish programs to improve health care quality and safety by promoting the use of EHRs. Meaningful Use objectives are standards created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to govern the use of EHRs and to let eligible providers receive financial incentives for meeting the criteria of Meaningful Use.

Meaningful Use objectives are being rolled out in three stages. Stage 3 focuses on using EHRs to improve healthcare outcomes and is projected to be complete by 2016. The grant earned by Dr. Travers and her colleagues will provide one year of funding to investigate the Stage 3 guidelines related to the use of electronic health records (EHRs) in facilitating patient and family engagement as well as care coordination.

The team from UNC-Chapel Hill will be led by primary investigator Dr. Carlton Moore, MD, MS from the School Medicine. Co-investigators include Drs. Debbie Travers, PhD, RN, FAEN, from the SON; Dr. Arlene Chung, MD, MHA, MMCi, from the School of Medicine; and Dr. Chris Shea, PhD, from the School of Public Health. A pre-doctoral student from the SON, Ms. Nakia Best, RN, will also be working with Dr. Travers.

The grant will be based at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.