GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences Receives $1.9 Million Award from Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to Study mHealth Initiative

September 13, 2013

WASHINGTON (Sept. 12, 2013) – Richard Katz, M.D., Bloedorn Professor of Cardiology, director of the Division of Cardiology at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), and director of the GW Heart & Vascular Institute, has been awarded $1.9 million by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) for a three-year project to study the combined use of mobile phones and community health workers to enhance patient management of chronic disease. This research is part of a portfolio of projects that will advance the field of patient-centered comparative effectiveness research and provide patients with information that will help them make better-informed decisions about their care.

Diabetes is a complex chronic disease with less than 63 percent of patients achieving desired glycemic, lipid, and blood pressure goals. To bridge the striking disconnect between physician goals and patient adherence, Katz and his research team will combine traditional and modern healthcare strategies for improved diabetes care. This project, an extension of five years of groundwork in mobile health (mHealth) research by Katz and his research team, has the potential to improve patient-healthcare team communication, increase patient access to care, reduce disparities, and improve patient self-management.

Two-hundred diabetes patients with Medicaid insurance in the Washington, D.C. area will be followed for one year. One group of patients will use the diabetes cell phone system, a second group will be assigned a community health worker, and the third group will have a cell phone system and be assigned a community health worker. With the cell phone system, patients will have an open line of communication with their community health worker and medical team, and both the medical team and patient will be able to monitor blood sugar and blood pressure levels. A community health worker will help patients understand the care of their diabetes and keep patients in contact with their doctors.

“This new chronic care model has the potential to modernize the traditional doctor-patient relationship, improve health, and reduce medical costs,” said Katz, the principal investigator (PI) for the award. “With this award, we believe we’ll find that patients with access to both the cell phone system and community health worker will have improved wellness behaviors and clinical outcome goals.”

“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and ultimately help patients and those who care for them make more fully informed decisions about their care,” said PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, M.D., M.P.H. “The project reflects PCORI’s commitment to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research, a new approach to health research that emphasizes the inclusion of patients and caregivers at all stages of the study process. We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences to share the results.”

Co-PIs for the GW SMHS project include Joshua Cohen, M.D., professor of medicine and interim director of the division of endocrinology at GW SMHS; Anne Cioletti, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at GW SMHS; Heather Young, Ph.D, M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at GW School of Public Health and Health Services; Shyrea Thompson, program director at the Capital City Area Health Education Center; Michelle Magee, M.D., director of the MedStar Diabetes Institute; and Gail Nunlee-Bland, M.D., director of the Diabetes Treatment Center at Howard University Hospital.

The GW SMHS study is one of 71 projects receiving a total of more than $114 million in funding approved by PCORI’s Board of Governors on Tuesday, Sept. 10. This represents the first time that studies specifically targeting improvement of research methods have been awarded PCORI funding. All were selected through a highly competitive review process in which scientists, patients, caregivers, and other stakeholders helped to evaluate more than 570 proposals received in response to five PCORI funding announcements.

Proposals were evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, how well they engage patients and other stakeholders, their methodological rigor, and how well they fit within PCORI’s national research priorities. All awards were approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract.

The awards are part of PCORI’s latest round of primary research funding. Through previous funding cycles, including a round of pilot projects, and other initiatives, PCORI has committed a total of $304 million since 2012 to support patient-centered comparative effectiveness research.

For more information about PCORI funding, visit


About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences:
Founded in 1825, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) is an independent, non-profit 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 health care decisions. PCORI is committed to continuously seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work. More information is available at