News and Opportunities

Check here for the latest news in measure development as well as the most recent patient-centered research from CMS, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Learn about the latest projects and open calls from our measure developers. Listen to our monthly podcast and subscribe to our newsletter to become an expert on quality measures. We have everything to keep you informed of what is happening in measure development.

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Reimaging Health Care: Mental Health in Black & Brown Communities

Dr. Chantell Frazier is the CEO and Founder of Anansi, LLC, a boutique data and research strategy consulting firm focused on improving Black mental health and mental health in other communities of color. Dr. Frazier and host Desiree Bradley discuss the importance of using data to drive change in the Black and other non-White communities. She identifies the gap in data collection and research in communities of color and explains how storytelling can complement data to improve health outcomes.

Patient-Centered Research and News

CMS and PFEN advocate for research that improves health and healthcare research that is patient-driven and focused. Each month, we highlight recent research from all over the world that utilizes patient, family, and provider perspectives, experiences, and engagement to improve health outcomes for diverse communities of all genders, sexualities, geographies, races, ethnicities, and languages. In honor of Veterans Health Month, we have chosen research that highlights the most recent innovations in health research and programs to support veterans in their health and quality of life.

A Peer Approach to Suicide Prevention and Recovery: Study Protocol for a Feasibility and Acceptability Trial of Caring Cards for Veterans

Contemporary Clinical Trials Communications

There is a need to develop, evaluate, and implement interventions that reduce Veteran suicide. Caring Cards (CC) is a novel intervention that integrates aspects of caring contacts and peers (i.e., persons with lived mental health experience). In CC, Veterans meet in a weekly group to create hope-filled cards that are sent to Veterans with mental health concerns. This study led by Blaire C. Ehret et al. will examine feasibility and acceptability of CC with Veterans with a history of and current elevated suicide risk via in-person and virtual modalities and preliminarily evaluate pre/post changes on suicide-specific outcomes.

This two-year open-trial study will employ a pre/post research design. Recruited thirty Veterans with a history of suicide risk will make up CC groups (card makers) and fifty Veterans currently at high-risk for suicide will be card recipients. Feasibility and acceptability (recruitment, retention, attendance, card receipt rates, and satisfaction questionnaire responses) and pre/post changes on suicide-specific outcomes (i.e., thwarted belonginess, perceived burdensomeness, social connectedness, suicidal ideation, and behavior) will be evaluated. Groups will meet weekly for 90–120 min for three to six months; card recipients will receive one card per month for six months.

This study builds on preliminary data which indicate Veterans are interested in and find participating in CC highly meaningful. This study is innovative as it will target two new Veteran populations and use both in-person and virtual modalities. If feasible and acceptable, a large-scale efficacy trial will be conducted to further examine CC as a suicide prevention intervention for Veterans.

Contributors to Job Satisfaction and Associations with Employee Withdrawal Among Patient Advocates in Veteran’s Health Administration

Safety and Health at Work

Job satisfaction is critical to the protection of employee health and retainment and vital to consistent, quality care within health care organizations. Patient advocates at the Veteran’s Health Administration (VHA) fulfill a vital role assisting veterans with resolution of concerns regarding care. However, little is known about their job satisfaction and relationship to employee withdrawal. Data is presented from a national survey of patient advocates on these factors.
Laura Kernan et al. asked 419 patients advocates at the VHA about domains of workplace characteristics, supervision, attitudes towards the work environment, and employee withdrawal. Additionally, they were asked about their role and responsibilities and levels of satisfaction with workplace domains and associations with overall job satisfaction, exhaustion and turnover decision were explored.

Overall satisfaction was high, however less than 50% expressed satisfaction with adequate time and resources, appreciation from managers, workload, and a culture of shared responsibility for resolving Veteran complaints. These factors were also associated with overall job satisfaction. Job satisfaction had strong negative associations with exhaustion and turnover decision.

Exploration of methods to increase satisfaction and retainment of patient advocates is warranted to support quality care of veterans and health of patient advocates within VHA.

Telemedicine at the VA: Examining Smartphone Connectivity Rates to VA Video Connect and Doximity Dialer Video

Annals of Vascular Surgery – Brief Reports and Innovations

Telemedicine usage has accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, raising concerns those without the necessary technology and digital literacy to participate may face increasing health disparities. In this study, Nicholas Hise, Jason Buckner, and their team examined the rates at which veterans are able to connect to two common telemedicine applications: VA Video Connect (VVC) and Doximity Dialer Video (DV).

Participants were selected from a pool of vascular surgery patients seen from August 2020 to October 2021 at a single Veterans Affairs medical center. Participants had to be >50 years old and not previously participated in a video visit. Eligible veterans were asked their interest participating in video visits and if they owned a smartphone. Those who met the eligibility requirements were tested on their ability to connect to both VVC and DV with minimal assistance. The connectivity rate for both platforms was recorded, and basic demographic and medical history information was collected.
One-hundred-four veterans participated in the study, with an average age of 70 ± 7 years. Seventy-four participants (71%) expressed interest in video visits, and 52 (70%) owned a smartphone. Forty-five smartphone owners (87%) successfully connected to DV, whereas 19 (37%) successfully connected to VVC (p < 0.001). VVC connectivity decreased with increasing age-group: 50-59 = 80%, 60-69 = 44%, ≥70 = 18% (p = 0.02).

Older veterans demonstrate difficulty connecting to VVC. The VHA is taking important steps to streamline usability of VVC, however continued expansion of support programs is necessary to improve access and reduce healthcare disparities in this population.