July 17, 2024

The Health

Your health, your choice

New Grant to Support Center for Patient Safety, Quality, and Equity

Jason Adelman

Jason Adelman leads the new EQUIP Center and the Center for Patient Safety Science at Columbia University. (Photo by Rudy Diaz / Columbia University Irving Medical Center)

Columbia University was awarded a $5 million grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to create the EQUIP Center for Learning Health System Science, which will support researchers across five institutions—Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Montefiore Medical Center—working to improve patient safety, particularly among groups that experience persistent health care disparities.

The EQUIP Center, led by Jason Adelman, will provide researchers with funding, training, and mentorship to successfully complete a research project in patient safety and health care quality with an emphasis on equity.

Nearly 25 years after the Institute of Medicine reported the extent of medical errors in “To Err is Human,” patient safety remains a problem, says Adelman. “National leadership is needed and EQUIP will help us develop the next generation of leaders and researchers working to solve these difficult quality and safety challenges.”

Rigorous research

Over the next five years, EQUIP will support 12 researchers across three medical schools as they use a Learning Health System approach to implement interventions that improve health outcomes and address disparities in care. This approach includes creating validated outcome measures and using these to study interventions to ensure they are having the desired effect.

“I often see the drive to solve a problem right now,” Adelman says. “But without taking time to understand the problem and the contributions of different elements of the system, you may not know exactly what you are trying to fix and whether the solution works as intended.

“With the Learning Health System approach, we generate evidence to fix the problem and the solution can be shared widely with other health systems facing these common challenges.”

Another essential component of the EQUIP Center is its community board, composed of patient and community group advisers whose values, needs, and priorities will inform the center’s projects.

Center for Patient Safety Science

The EQUIP Center is one part of the Center for Patient Safety Science at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. CPSS brings together experts from Columbia University’s many schools, cultivating interdisciplinary collaboration and creating innovative patient safety solutions.

In addition to EQUIP, the Center for Patient Safety Science trains physicians to conduct patient safety research through the Patient Safety and Health Services Research (PSR) Fellowship, funded by a T32 grant from AHRQ. Launched in 2018, the PSR Fellowship trained eight physicians in its first five years, 63% of whom were women and 38% of whom were from underrepresented minority groups. The fellowship has been renewed through 2028 to train an additional 15 physician-researchers.

people talking in a hallway

The Center for Patient Safety Science trains physicians to conduct patient safety research and help medical institutions reach zero preventable patient harm. (Photo by Rudy Diaz / Columbia University Irving Medical Center)

The Center for Patient Safety Science will also create a quality and patient safety training academy to provide faculty and staff with the skills and tools to address quality and safety issues in their local areas of practice. The center will enhance curriculums for medical and nursing students, residents, and fellows to help facilitate the integration of quality and patient safety with their future careers. The center is also evaluating predictive models with the goal of reducing diagnostic and other medical errors.

Ultimately, the goal of the center is to help medical institutions reach zero preventable patient harm.

“To get there, we need a combination of culture, technology, and education,” Adelman says. “Too often we punish people who make mistakes instead of focusing on systems that contribute to those mistakes. Changing the culture starts with leadership, and we’re fortunate to be at Columbia where we’re aligned with the medical center’s priorities.”

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