HHS Establishes Disability Research Center

A $6 million award from the Department of Health and Human Services will analyze research data and discern best practices for serving people with disabilities.

The Department of Health and Human Services Office on Disability announced on Monday an award of more than $6 million to establish a research center that will build electronic data models to conduct comparative effectiveness research on disability services and quality of care.

Called the Center of Excellence in Research on Disability Services, Care Coordination, and Integration, the center will be established with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The research center will be part of the Office of Disability and will identify and evaluate data, conduct research, and share scientific and clinical information to help patients, providers, policy makers, consumers, caregivers, and family members make decisions on healthcare.

HHS also announced that Mathematica Policy Research, a Princeton, N.J. based research firm that provides a full range of research and data collection services, has been awarded a two-year contract to build the infrastructure necessary to support and conduct research on the effectiveness of systems of care for people with disabilities.

According to HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the data collected will allow the Office on Disability and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to examine the effectiveness of different services and support . Sebelius also said in a statement that she is hopeful the center "will make necessary data improvements to better understand health and support services for people with disabilities."

The new research center will work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Chronic Conditions Warehouse, a research data warehouse that supports the study of chronic illness, to document the public data available, identify and interpret data gaps, link existing sources of datasets relevant to disability, and ultimately support HHS agencies in making necessary data improvements to better capture information relevant to studies on services for people with disabilities.

Another source of information the center will rely on is Medicaid data, which contains information on state-based plan and waiver services. This data will be assessed and used to identify and propose ways to achieve greater consistency in how services are used and defined.

Looking ahead, Rosaly Correa-de-Araujo, deputy director of the Office on Disability, said the new research center offers an opportunity to advance the science, services, and support that benefit people with disabilities.

"This is a unique initiative that creates a broad array of future opportunities in comparative effectiveness research in the field of disability services, including those related to rehabilitation, behavioral, and psychosocial interventions," Correa-de-Araujo said.

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