Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Center for Geospatial Medicine receives federal innovation award to study diabetes

The Center for Geospatial Medicine at U-M is working to reduce death and disability from Type 2 diabetes under a grant announced Tuesday as part the nation's 2010 health care law.

The center is part of a multi-state research team examining Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, in at-risk populations in four, underserved counties in North Carolina, Mississippi, and West Virginia. The Center for Geospatial Medicine, which uses systematic, spatially based methods for analyzing environmental threats to people and communities, is housed within the Children's Environmental Health Initiative at the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE).

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the preliminary recipients of the Health Care Innovation Award. The U-M project received $9.8 million and is led by the Duke University Medical Center. In all, 26 projects received $122.6 million in funding; the projects are expected to reduce health spending by $254 million in the next three years.

The research team also includes the Durham County Health Department (Durham, N.C.), Cabarrus Health Alliance (Cabarrus County, N.C.), Mississippi Public Health Institute (Quitman County, Miss.), Marshall University, and Mingo County Health Department (Mingo County, W.V.). Their research effort is titled, "From Clinic to Community: Achieving Health Equity in the Southern United States."

"Geospatial mapping and analysis will combine medical information and community information so that interventions can meet both individual patient and larger community needs," said Marie Lynn Miranda, dean of SNRE and director of the Center for Geospatial Medicine, which includes an office in Durham. "This will allow researchers to visualize complex relationships among the locations of diabetes patients, patterns of health care, and available social resources. The information will serve as the basis for intervention design, decision support, and real-time monitoring of interventions."

Over a three-year period, the collaborative program will train an estimated 88 health care workers and create an estimated 31 new jobs. These workers include new types of health workers including information officers, health integrators, and community health workers, who will use novel technologies to facilitate communication, education, and care delivery.

"Diabetes is a devastating problem, but is especially far-reaching in the Southeastern region of the United States," said Dr. Robert M. Califf, vice chancellor for clinical research at Duke, and leader of this project.

"Previous approaches have not been able to stem the tide. Changing the course of the diabetes epidemic requires a radically new approach. By combining the modern technology of electronic records and geospatial mapping with a new work force of community-based health care professionals, we believe we can achieve the triple aim of better outcomes, better health care and lower cost," he says.

The innovative program will employ local home care teams who will provide patient-centered coordinated care to improve outcomes and lower cost — reducing hospital and emergency room admissions and reducing through preventive care the need for amputations, dialysis, and cardiac procedures with estimated savings of over $20 million.

"We can't wait to support innovative projects that will save money and make our health care system stronger," Sebelius said in a statement. "It's yet another way we are supporting local communities now in their efforts to provide better care and lower cost."

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at HHS administers the awards through cooperative agreements. Awardees were chosen for their innovative solutions to health care challenges facing their communities and for their focus on creating a well-trained health care work force equipped to meet the need for new jobs in the 21st century health system. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the health care and social assistance sector will gain the most jobs between now and 2020.

For more information on the awards announced today, go to