June 6, 2011

JHM, Walgreens to collaborate on population-based research

Johns Hopkins Medicine and Walgreens have entered into a wide-ranging agreement designed to promote collaboration on population-based research and to jointly review and develop protocols to improve outcomes of patients with chronic diseases.

In addition, JHM and Walgreens will explore together the development of new models for improving care for individuals. This will include the creation of new educational and training programs for Walgreens’ 70,000 health care service providers.

The agreement provides JHM with the opportunity to develop innovative population-based research ideas with a nationwide industry leader that is committed to improving health care outcomes and possesses advanced data systems and a large patient base, prerequisites for such large-scale studies. As part of a commitment to patient privacy, all patient information used for these studies will be anonymous.

JHM has for years provided its expertise to the health care industry and to corporations seeking to improve the care and outcomes of their patients or employees. For example, JHM’s Center for Innovation in Quality Patient Care has been creating new models of health care delivery that improve patient safety, quality and efficiency at Johns Hopkins and in hundreds of hospitals in the United States and around the world.

“By collaborating with Johns Hopkins Medicine, we will access some of the best expertise in health care to develop research, protocols and training programs designed to improve patient outcomes through our nationwide network of accessible community pharmacists, nurse practitioners, physicians and other clinicians,” said Kermit Crawford, Walgreens president of pharmacy, health and wellness.

Fred Brancati, professor of medicine and director of the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said, “Improving the care of people with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease is a central goal of health professionals, health systems and U.S. policymakers.

“It makes sense medically, and under health care reform, it makes sense financially, too,” Brancati said. “It’s a part of the Hopkins mission that Walgreens can help us advance. Combining our clinical expertise and research know-how with their nationwide resources—including pharmacies, clinics, worksite health centers, information systems and 70,000 health care service providers—will generate new approaches to improve population health.”

According to Patricia Brown, president of Johns Hopkins HealthCare, “With its large patient and client base, sophisticated IT infrastructure and commitment to improving health care outcomes for its patients, Walgreens provides us with a unique opportunity to conduct large-scale population-based research. It also affords us the chance to augment Walgreens’ existing quality and education programs to enhance care and outcomes for a very large number of people.”

Specifically, the agreement sets up opportunities for:

• Research programs. In conjunction with the current Walgreens research team, JHM experts will develop new ideas for research in disease management, screening and prevention that they will spin off into proposals for funding.

• Clinical protocol development and review. Johns Hopkins faculty are international leaders in developing health care protocols, medical guidelines and algorithms in the areas of chronic disease management. They will work closely with Walgreens experts to review and improve care.

• Professional training. By leveraging the capabilities within JHM in the areas of onsite and distance education for physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, technicians, pharmacists and others, JHM hopes to develop a comprehensive program to expand and enhance the ongoing training of the professionals within the Walgreens network.

• Clinical program development and health plan services. JHM and Walgreens will explore the possibility of jointly developing lifestyle, chronic care and disease-specific programs.