Purdue University is enlarging its capacity to create, verify and deliver innovative solutions to health and healthcare problems with a significant expansion of the university’s Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering (RCHE).
The center will enhance the mission first outlined when the Regenstrief Foundation established RCHE in 2005 by venturing outside conventional boundaries for healthcare research. It will use novel multidisciplinary studies that examine broad questions around health and well-being, and will emphasize delivering practical, implementable solutions directly to communities in keeping with the Purdue land-grant mission.
“We first will listen to the communities we serve,” said Pavlos Vlachos, director of RCHE and the St. Vincent Health Professor of Healthcare Engineering. “Our holistic approach puts the community and patient at the center of everything we do. We want to listen to patients and clinicians, to identify needs, and then harness Purdue’s vast talent to develop, test and validate solutions. RCHE will act as a bridge carrying the benefits of research and discovery directly to the people they are designed to help.”
RCHE’s work is designed to accomplish key missions within four areas:
Health Systems. Improve healthcare delivery and patient outcomes by deploying sustainable solutions in health systems. This can be done by integrating Purdue’s excellence in engineering, modeling, artificial intelligence, human factors, organizational behavior and the social sciences.
Population Health and Health Equity. Translate discovery and innovation into real-world solutions to improve population health and address the root causes of health inequities through meaningful community engagement.
Health Data Science. Harness the power of health and healthcare data via Purdue’s strengths in computer science, statistics and mathematics to improve patients’ experiences, outcomes and population health.
Health Education and Communication. Break down communication boundaries to translate innovative solutions that can improve everyone’s health and well-being.
In its work to foster equal access to healthcare, RCHE will investigate impediments to health equity and develop programs to address barriers. Ultimately it will help communities implement solutions to overcome health inequities.
“This expansion of work in healthcare improvement is a very important step for Purdue and for the people of Indiana,” said Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. surgeon general, who now serves as Purdue’s first executive director of health equity initiatives. “RCHE will broaden and magnify valuable work already being done at Purdue to promote health equity. Until healthcare is consistently accessible, affordable and of high quality, these will be our goals. These goals are worthy challenges for the best minds, so this is the right challenge for Purdue, and this is the right approach.”
During the past 17 years, RCHE has brought to bear all the engineering disciplines to questions of how best to prevent, diagnose, treat and manage illness, as well as preserve and improve physical and mental health through all healthcare services and professions. Most recently, through the I-HOPE program, RCHE has taken the lead, in partnership with the Indiana Department of Health and more than 100 community partners, to reduce health disparities throughout the state. Over the next two years, RCHE and collaborators will engage with 30 Indiana counties, boosting local strengths and building networks to connect people to needed health services. This effort and other key initiatives rely heavily on the Purdue Healthcare Advisors, a team of 30 specialists in health equity and lean methodology, as well as RCHE’s teams of faculty and clinical affiliates and data scientists. They will all collaborate on work to improve the quality, accessibility, equity and affordability of healthcare delivery.
Theresa Mayer, executive vice president for research and partnerships at Purdue, said that while Purdue has been able to make significant impact in many areas through RCHE, “the expanded focus of the new organization will enable us to leverage our research expertise to grow our impact on the community in Indiana and beyond.”