A Boost for Pediatric Research

Pediatric Research in Inpatient Settings (PRIS), a network of pediatric hospitalists practicing at 150 academic and community hospitals, recently landed two federal stimulus grants totaling $12 million, far outstripping past support for research in the field, according to PRIS executive council chair Raj Srivastava, MD, MPH.

"Our mandate is to get federal dollars for multisite, transformative, clinical research for pediatric hospital medicine," says Dr. Srivastava, a pediatric hospitalist at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. "If we are going to be a real specialty, we have to conduct research to define best evidence and best practice: how to translate the evidence out into the field."

PRIS was formed in 2002 with sponsorship from SHM, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Academic Pediatric Association. Reorganized last year with a new executive council of active researchers, PRIS convened a strategic planning roundtable to reinvigorate the research agenda. In March, the Child Health Corporation of America, a business alliance of CEOs from 42 nonprofit children’s hospitals, awarded PRIS $1.4 million to support its infrastructure needs and a process that would prioritize research based on prevalence, cost, and variation in practice.

The federal stimulus monies, a pair of three-year grants awarded in September, will fund pediatric inpatient comparative effectiveness research. One of the grants, for $9 million, will support work to link clinical and administrative databases at six children’s hospitals. The second grant, worth $3 million, will be used to study the effectiveness of a resident handoff "bundle" of QI processes designed to enhance communication and improve signouts and transitions of care.

Dr. Srivastava says that, with the infrastructure now in place, more grant support will become possible. Adult hospitalists could use the PRIS experience as a model for building their own multisite research networks, he adds. “This kind of research matters because it is what we are all being asked to do in healthcare anyway,” he says.

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