It will focus on geographic differences in care and quality improvement. The project’s name is the Multiple Sclerosis Continuous Quality Improvement Collaborative study.
Its goal is to improve care by sharing information on best practices and successful care strategies. The non-profit Dartmouth-Hitchcock system, which is affiliated with Dartmouth University Medical Center, serves patients in northern New England.
In its first year, the study will obtain information about MS care. When the second year begins, centers participating in the study will be randomly selected to take part in two-year quality improvement initiatives.
Researchers will then evaluate the initiatives’ effect on a range of care and medical-resource measures. These will include the use of U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved disease-modifying therapies for MS and magnetic resonance imaging to track the disease. The team will also evaluate patient outcomes, including relapse rate and quality of life.
“MS is a progressive, disabling, costly and incurable disease that can cause a variety of physical and emotional challenges, including fatigue, pain and depression,” Brant Oliver, who will be the study’s principal investigator, said in a press release. “We are attempting an innovative approach using quality improvement methods to optimize evidence-based care for people with MS.”
The project will be the United States’ first collaborative study on quality improvement in MS care.
It “is both innovative and timely in that it will bring quality improvement to the MS field, including a rigorous study of geographic variation in care quality and a randomized study of different improvement interventions to optimize outcomes,” said Susan Reeves, Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s chief nursing executive.
The medical organization is conducting the study in collaboration with Biogen and participating MS centers. They include Massachusetts General Hospital’s Multiple Sclerosis Center in Boston and the Concord Hospital Multiple Sclerosis Specialty Care Program in Concord, New Hampshire.
“We hope that through research programs like the MSCQI Collaborative [study] we can meaningfully improve the care of people living with MS,” said Terrie Livingston, senior director of U.S. Medical at Biogen. “By sharing data across centers, we hope to identify effective strategies to improve MS care.”
Four sites are expected to join study later this year, doubling its scope from 5,000 to more than 10,000 people with MS.
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