The primary research mission of the Section of Hospital Medicine is to produce knowledge that can improve the care of hospitalized patients. The most important settings for our research are the hospitals in which we practice, but we also partner extensively with other hospitals for multicenter studies and use nationally representative databases to extend the scope and generalizability of our research. Since 1997, we have enrolled over 100,000 patients in clinical studies at the University of Chicago Medical Center and an additional 20,000 patients at other hospitals around the nation as part of multicenter studies that we have directed. With the development of the Medical Center’s Urban Health Initiative, we are seeking new partnerships to help us better contribute to the improvement of health care throughout our community.
Our research programs cover a broad spectrum of translational science, ranging from collection of genetic and other biomarkers as part of the Department of Medicine’s TRIDOM project for the development of personalized treatments, to tests of whether new diagnostic tools and treatments offer meaningful clinical benefits, and how to increase the use of effective therapies by providers in both academic and community settings. A major focus of our research program concerns the role of provider and systems level factors in affecting the quality, outcomes, and cost of care. Major studies have examined how hospital physicians learn through experience and from their peers, and how those affect outcomes, how to improve communication between providers both in the hospital and at times of transitions of care, and evaluations of educational programs to enhance the adoption of best practices by hospital physicians. Some studies focus on specific diseases, such as diabetic foot infections and sickle cell disease, while others examine clinical conditions potentially relevant to patients across many diagnoses, such as pain control, and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) quality. Other studies focus on the development of research methods, such as cost-effectiveness analysis, that are critical to assessing the comparative effectiveness of alternative treatments.
Research on medical education is also a very important part of our research program, and includes medical education at all levels, from the ongoing training of experienced clinicians, to the clinical training of residents and medical students, and even the introduction of talented college and high school students to careers in the health professions. Because many of the research problems that we examine focus on aspects of patient and/or provider behavior, our Section benefits strongly from its connections to the Center for Health and the Social Sciences(CHeSS), a university-wide center devoted to promoting collaborative research and training at the Interface of health and the social sciences. We are also fortunate to have developed close collaborative relationships with researchers throughout the Department of Medicine and Biological Sciences Division, allowing us to benefit from their expertise in their areas of clinical specialization.
Our research has received funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Reynolds Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Merck Foundation, Pfizer, and a number of other public and private sources. Several of our grants, such as our NIH-funded, AHRQ-funded Hospital Medicine and Economics Center for Education and Research in Therapeutics (CERT) programs have also given us valuable opportunities to participate in national research networks. We are also grateful for the generous gifts to our programs from alumni, patients, and other friends.