HPM Spotlights

hpmspotlights04aWelcome to HPM Spotlights, the e-news tool for the Department of Health Policy and Management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health! Here you will find a collection of the latest department news, special features, dates to save, and more. Look here for earlier issues.

In this edition:

HPM celebrates its 80th Anniversary Sept 15-17!

Novant Health Gift Establishes Distinguished Lecturer Fund at UNC Gillings, speakers to be chosen by HPM

Mark Holmes appointed new director of the UNC Sheps Center for Health Services Research

Ethan Basch receives $5.45M grant to study patient-reported outcomes

BSPH senior David Spratte teams with Duke student in successful start-up company

DrPH student Nicole Fisher named a top 10 Healthcare Trendsetter of 2016 by Medtech Boston


HPM 80 years
HPM celebrates its 80th Anniversary Sept 15-17!

SAVE THE DATE – Please mark your calendar and plan to join HPM for our 80th Anniversary, September 15-17, 2016 in Chapel Hill.

There will be a reception on Thursday evening, a Population Health Symposium featuring Dr. Victor Dzau, President of the National Academy of Medicine as keynote speaker on Friday, and a tailgate Saturday morning in preparation for the football game. Register, see more details, and view a draft schedule here.

If you have any questions, please contact Jeffrey Simms at jsimms@email.unc.edu.


Novant Health Gift Establishes Distinguished Lecturer Fund at UNC Gillings

A gift from Novant Health will establish the “Novant Health Distinguished Lecturer Fund” at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The Novant Health Distinguished Lecturers will be chosen and presented by UNC Gillings Department of Health Policy and Management. The first of these will occur in the fall, 2016 semester.

“The fund will allow us to bring in health management and health policy leaders to discuss important health care issues and trends and share their perspectives with our students and faculty,” says Daniel Lee, PhD, chair and professor of the Department of Health Policy and Management. “It will enrich our students’ learning experience and expand our faculty’s professional outreach.”

The Department of Health Policy and Management at UNC’s Gillings School is consistently ranked as one of the top healthcare management programs in the U.S. The department strives to improve health for all by creating and translating knowledge into policy and practice and by educating current and future healthcare administrators, policymakers, practitioners, and researchers. Nearly 450 students are currently enrolled in our undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs.

Novant Health is an integrated network of physician clinics, outpatient facilities and hospitals. The system consists of more than 1,380 physicians and nearly 24,000 employees at 530 locations, including 14 medical centers. Novant Health is committed to improving the health of the communities it serves and provides hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of community benefit each year through efforts like charity care, health education programs and other initiatives.

“We are pleased to support UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and their efforts to educate leaders about important health care issues and trends,” said Fred Hargett, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Novant Health. “As health care providers we are facing an exciting and challenging time. Government reform, new technologies and increased demands for access, quality and affordable care are transforming the health care industry. Educating leaders about these important issues will help shape the industry for the future.”


Mark Holmes appointed new director of the UNC Sheps Center for Health Services Research
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Mark Holmes

The UNC-Chapel Hill Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research is pleased to announce that Dr. George “Mark” Holmes has been appointed as the director of the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, one of the oldest and largest academic health services research centers in the United States.

“With his record of distinguished research, demonstrated leadership, and keen insight into public policy, I am pleased to name Dr. Holmes to lead the Sheps Center,” says Terry Magnuson, Vice Chancellor for Research at UNC. “The Sheps Center has provided university-based research and health services for nearly half a century and Mark is well positioned to advance the center’s long tradition of service to the state.”

Holmes is an associate professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. He has served with the Sheps Center since 1997, beginning as a graduate research assistant and most recently as the director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center, a senior research fellow and the co-director of the Program on Health Care Economics and Finance.

“I am honored to be entrusted with the legacy of one of the finest research institutions in the country,” says Holmes.  “Research conducted at the Sheps Center has been invaluable to improving the delivery of health care for North Carolina communities, and continuing this tradition is a top priority.”

“Dr. Holmes is particularly well suited to leading the Sheps Center. His own research on the financial health of rural hospitals is reflective of the health services research that center directors have facilitated,” says Barbara K. Rimer, Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor of the Gillings School of Global Public Health. “Most important, within the Health Policy and Management department and within Sheps, Mark has demonstrated excellence both as a productive researcher as well as a leader who will facilitate a strategic interdisciplinary research agenda relevant across our university and beyond.”

The Sheps Center opened its doors in 1968 and seeks to improve the health of individuals, families and populations by understanding the problems, issues and alternatives in the design and delivery of health care services. The center received nearly $45 million in external funding in the last fiscal year, and is home to more than 80 research projects in 11 programs.

“Mark Holmes is a wonderful choice to lead the Sheps Center for Health Services Research,” says Tim Carey, who is stepping down as director of the Sheps Center after 16 years. “Challenges of cost, quality, and access to care abound, and Mark’s breadth of experience is well aligned with those areas. He is also an outstanding mentor for graduate students and junior faculty.”

Holmes received his B.S. from Michigan State University, majoring in mathematics and economics, and his PhD from the Department of Economics at UNC-Chapel Hill. His interests include hospital finance, rural health, workforce, health policy, and patient-centered outcomes research. In 2014, he received the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty and in 2015 he was named the Outstanding Rural Health Researcher by the National Rural Health Association. Previously, he was vice president of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, where he gained experience in North Carolina health policy. He also served on the board of the North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool, and is a member of advisory boards and committees to multiple programs in North Carolina. His state policy work led to his 2010 Health Care Hero “Rising Star” and 2012 “Forty Under Forty” awards from the Triangle Business Journal.


Basch receives $5.45M grant to study patient-reported outcomes

Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, will use a five-year, $5.45 million grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to support his national study on whether having cancer patients self-report their symptoms while undergoing treatment results in better care.

Dr. Ethan Basch

Ethan Basch

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) has awarded Ethan Basch, MD, MSc, a five-year, $5.45 million grant to support research into whether there are clinical benefits of having people with cancer self-report their symptoms while undergoing treatment.

Basch, director of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Cancer Outcomes Research Program, is a national leader in the study of patient-reported outcomes and technologies to measure the impact of interventions on patients’ experiences. He will conduct the research in conjunction with the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Foundation.

The national trial will investigate whether integrating patient-reported symptoms into care management can improve the patient’s quality of care and quality of life as well as measure the impact of patient self-reporting on the healthcare delivery system.

“Patients with metastatic cancer frequently experience symptoms that cause distress, disability, and lead to urgent care visits, and these symptoms often go unrecognized and unaddressed by clinicians even though there are many interventions that can provide relief,” said Basch, who is a professor in the UNC School of Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology. “Sometimes this happens because patients did not have the opportunity to discuss symptoms at an office visit or the symptoms occurred between visits.”

Basch said enabling patients to report their own symptoms electronically at regular intervals could address this issue. A patient reporting severe symptoms can trigger clinicians to respond with interventions ranging from advice to prescriptions or triage for evaluation. Prior studies have found most patients willing and able to self-report symptoms during cancer care, and clinicians find this information valuable. Preliminary data suggest this approach leads to better patient quality of life, reduces emergency room and hospital visits, and may lengthen survival.

The researchers have developed a randomized trial to better understand the impact of patients self-reporting symptoms. In the intervention arm, patients are given the choice to use a secured internet site or an automated telephone system to regularly report 12 common symptoms. Email alerts will be sent to nurses when patients report severe or worsening symptoms. Nurses and patients will be provided with evidence-based symptom management recommendations. The trial’s control arm will not include symptom self-reporting, but nurses and patients will be provided with symptom management recommendations.

The outcomes being tracked include physical function, quality of life, survival, emergency room/hospital visits, and perspectives about relative benefits and burdens from patients, clinicians, and national organizations.

“Previous studies suggest that the benefits of patient-reported outcomes will justify the personnel and financial costs associated with the program, but a randomized trial is needed to to more clearly determine the impact patient-reported outcomes has on quality of care and the delivery of care,” said Basch.

Other UNC Lineberger members working on the project will include Angela Stover, PhD, Antonia Bennett, PhD, Mattias Jonsson, and Bryce Reeve, PhD.

PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. For more information about PCORI’s funding, visit www.pcori.org.


BSPH senior David Spratte teams with Duke student in successful start-up company

Our BSPH senior, David Spratte, is the “Entrepreneur of the Month”! He teamed up with a Duke student, Kasper Kubica, to form a start-up company to provide an over-the-counter antiperspirant for hands and feet. Its product is now being sold online and in hundreds of stores. Check out their story in The News & Observer.


DrPH student Nicole Fisher named a Top 10 Healthcare Trendsetter of 2016 by Medtech Boston

Nicole Fisher, DrPH student and founder & CEO of HHR Strategies, Inc., received recognition as one of the Top 10 Healthcare Trendsetters of 2016 and also as a 40 Under 40 Healthcare Innovator, from Medtech Boston.