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WVU grant aims to improve health care

Health care in West Virginia could soon change, thanks in part to a nearly $2 million grant the WVU School of Public Health has received.

Officials will use the State Innovation Model Design award to coordinate health care planning activities statewide. The initiative is supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and provides technical and financial support to states that design and test innovative payment and service delivery models in order to improve health care and lower costs for Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program recipients.

The WVU School of Public Health will partner with the Governor’s Office, Department of Health and Human Resources and the West Virginia Health Innovation Collaborative.

“Our goal will be to work with health care consumers, providers, payers, governmental and non-governmental agencies to develop innovative approaches to improve the quality of health care and control cost,” said Dr. Jeffrey Coben, professor in the School of Public Health and principle investigator for the project. “At the end of this one-year planning process we will then have the opportunity to seek additional funding to actually implement and test these approaches in West Virginia.”

The plan is still in the beginning phases, so Coben couldn’t speak to specifics but he did offer examples. For instance, the school may consider an initiative to improve primary care through patient-centered medical homes, create quality measure score cards that health care payers and providers can use to align quality improvement and value-based payment methods, expand the adoption of health information technology to improve patient care, foster partnerships between public, behavioral and primary health care providers and strengthen the health care work force through educational programs, training, residencies and worker training.

“Our hope and intent is that all West Virginians will eventually benefit from these new initiatives through improvements in access to quality health care, improved care coordination and a greater emphasis on prevention throughout our communities,” Coben said.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney. Follow her at

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