Rutgers Launches New Health Care Initiative

By Andrea Alexander

During nearly three decades as a primary care physician, Alfred Tallia has identified a daunting list of flaws with the nation’s health care.

Specialists rarely coordinate care for patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure – which can lead to repetitive, expensive tests. In most doctors’ offices, no one is responsible for developing plans with patients to lose weight, exercise and change their diet – or for following up with those patients to help them meet their goals.

But recently Talia, chair of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School – now part of Rutgers – is getting ready to launch a solution he believes will deliver more effective care at a lower cost.

Tallia is spearheading the creation of an Accountable Care Organization, called Robert Wood Johnson Partners, that will coordinate treatment among doctors, other health professionals, and hospitals through better use of electronic health records. The project also involves restructuring doctors’ offices to improve communication with patients, and directly involve them in developing plans to benefit their health.

Tallia and others in the medical school – in partnership with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Health System – are teaming up with researchers across different disciplines at Rutgers to find the best ways to improve care and curtail costs. This includes the School of Engineering, the Department of Psychology and the School of Communication and Information.

Professors Kang Li and Susan Albin, in the School of Engineering, will use mathematical modeling and statistical analysis to study workflow in the primary care office and define the role of a patient care coordinator.

"The availability of services from a patient care coordinator could reduce patients frustration obtaining care, fulfill doctors’ plans for how best to help the patient, and reduce the cost burden on the whole community with fewer emergency room visits and hospital admissions,'' said Albin, a professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Read more at Rutgers Today.