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Brown University database to improve care for older Americans

PROVIDENCE, RI – Brown University has set out to create the first research database aimed at improving the nation’s long-term care system. Improvements made using the information are estimated to take effect in as little as five years and mean a better financial situation for many older Americans.

The National Institute on Aging awarded Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research a five-year, $10 million grant to create the database. The project should be completed in about 20 years.

“Right now we don’t have a plan on including cost data, but will have information on payer mix,” said Vincent Mor, chairman of the Department of Community Health at Brown and principal investigator for the project. “But one could readily add cost report information once they are standardized across states for Medicaid or simply adding relevant fields from the Medicare cost reports.”

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Mor and his team will combine existing federal data on Medicare reimbursement claims, patient hospitalization rates and other data with information the team will collect on the health status of residents, reimbursement rates for long-term care services, the organization of those services and other topics from a random sample of 2,600 nursing homes across the country.

“The plan is to make the provider, market and state level longitudinal data available for public use and downloadable by researchers of all types. We’re still working on the content, structure and timing of the availability of data,” Mor said.

The database will allow researchers to trace a clear relationship between state policies and local market forces and the quality of long-term care. Policy-makers can then use the information to craft state and local guidelines that promote high quality, cost-effective, equitable care for older Americans.

“This is strong science led by first-class researchers,” said John Haaga, deputy director of the Behavioral and Social Research Program at the National Institute on Aging, a component of the National Institutes of Health. “And the public should see the benefits from this project not in 20 years, but in five. This policy-relevant research goes directly to the institute’s mission to support science that can extend the healthy, active years of life.”