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Dual-State Learning Health System Initiative Forms in the Carolinas

June 9, 2015
by David Raths
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Duke Endowment awards $15.3 million to advance the collaborative effort

Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC), established in 2004 by leaders of South Carolina’s largest research universities and health systems to improve health through analytics and research, is expanding its efforts by partnering with health IT researchers in North Carolina’s health systems.

With a $15.3 million grant from the Duke Endowment, a private foundation based in Charlotte, N.C., the nonprofit HSSC will collaborate with the health systems and medical schools of University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Duke University, and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to build upon the infrastructure and enable the use of data to address unacceptably high rates of diabetes, stroke, obesity, heart disease, and health disparities in both states.

In South Carolina, HSSC-supported organizations include Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina, as well as health systems AnMed Health, Greenville Health System, McLeod Health, MUSC Health, Palmetto Health, Self Regional Healthcare, and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.

The new grant brings The Duke Endowment’s total funding of HSSC to $47.55 million. The endowment awarded HSSC $21 million in 2006, and $11.25 million in 2011 to, among other things, establish statewide research-enabling information technology infrastructure and tools and create a nationally recognized learning health system.

“Our two states face major public healthcare challenges, and for that we need large-scale solutions,” said Iain Sanderson, vice dean of research informatics for Duke University School of Medicine, in a prepared statement. “This award from The Duke Endowment significantly expands the capability to share health information and learning health initiatives between North Carolina and South Carolina.”

The Duke Endowment grant will expand HSSC’s Learning Health Community to other health and social service entities that can benefit from data and analytics, said HSSC President and CEO Helga Rippen, M.D., adding that the grant heightens the organization’s ability to enable research alongside clinical and community collaboration by providing actionable information and collaborative tools to accelerate learning and innovation and track progress.

“HSSC has shown that in South Carolina, with the right IT infrastructure and tools, university-health system collaborations are more effective at improving health through data-driven action and research and are more competitive in securing external funding for that research,” Rippen added in a statement.






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