Weill Cornell One of Nine Institutions Chosen for New Federal Healthcare Delivery Research Network

Sep 15, 2000


In the fast-moving field of health care, there is no end to new questions about quality, safety, access, and costs. To help answer some of these questions in a timely and scientific manner, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has chosen nine institutions or organizations to form the Integrated Delivery System Research Network (IDSRN). The nine members will have the opportunity to win contracts to provide answers to certain critical questions.

Weill Cornell Medical College, and its Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Mailman School of Public Health, the International Center for Health Outcomes and Innovation Research, and the Department of Informatics of Columbia University, is the only one of the nine selected institutions from the metropolitan area.

AHRQ Director John M. Eisenberg, M.D., said, "Today's fast-changing health-care system demands an expedited research cycle to produce and disseminate timely scientific evidence about what works and doesn't work in health care. Not only will the IDSRN help us meet this challenge, but the richness and diversity of the affiliated health-care systems will permit analysis of how medical care is delivered in every part of the United States, and to every kind of patient—men, women and children, young and old, poor and the more fortunate, insured and uninsured, rural and urban and minorities."

Weill Cornell was chosen for its expertise and for its rich web of partners: institutions reaching through NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System, and neighbors like Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Dr. Alvin I. Mushlin, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Public Health and a noted authority on health outcomes research, will be Principal Investigator and leader of Weill Cornell's team in responding to the IDSRN. He will be assisted in the coordination of this project by department members Dr. Hirsch Ruchlin, Dr. Mark A. Callahan, and Dr. Nathaniel Hupert.

The AHRQ has begun by issuing a number of "Requests for Task Orders" that state some questions it hopes to have answered and the terms under which the answers are to be given. One "Request for Task Order," for example, is titled, "Socioeconomic, Racial/Ethnic, and Gender Differences in Quality and Outcomes of Care as It Relates to Cardiovascular Disease." This project requires that the contractor document existing differences and search for solutions. It asks for a report within 14 months at an estimated cost of up to $200,000.

Dr. Mushlin says that the initial task orders range from $100,000 to $450,000. AHRQ plans to spend $4 million in support of the Network over the next three years.

According to Dr. Mushlin, Weill Cornell and its affiliated institutions have a wealth of data that might be suitable for the Network's task orders. But what is worth noting at the start, he says, is that Weill Cornell Medical College—its Department of Public Health and the NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System—was one of just nine institutions selected for the Network: this achievement indicates that it is looked on as a national resource for this type of important research and as a place where the answers to these questions can be found. Importantly, the opportunity to collaborate, in this effort, with the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University and with the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has created one of the strongest teams in the nation for health services research.

The IDSRN's other members are: Abt Associates, Inc., Cambridge, Mass.; Center for Health Care Policy and Evaluation, Minneapolis, Minn.; Denver Health, Denver, Colo.; Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, Oakland, Calif.; Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle, N.C.; USQA Center for Health Care Research, Atlanta, Georgia; Marshfield Medical Research and Education Foundation, Marshfield, Wis.; and University of Minnesota Division of Health Services Research and Policy, Minneapolis, Minn.