Hospitals create virtual research center

August 12, 2008 7:17:31 PM PDT
Two powerhouses in Bay Area health care are teaming up to form a new cardiac research center. It's not located in a physical building, but when it's up and running, the project will combine world class research facilities, with one of the largest patient databases in California.

For Geraldine, this trip to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco was another round in a long battle against heart problems she's suffered for several years.

But information about the care she receives will soon be benefitting researchers miles away at Stanford University.

"It's basically combining the expertise of Kaiser and Stanford in the area of biostatistics, health economics and leveraging the rich data at Kaiser," said Dr. Alan Go from Kaiser Permanente Research.

Doctor Go is heading up the creation of what Kaiser is calling 'Virtual Heart Research Center' -- the program that will share information from Kaisers massive database, which includes medical information on more than three million patients.

"We collect almost everything about their clinical care, which is different from other types of data bases which captures either procedures but they don't capture labs, or they capture drugs but they don't capture all the diagnosis and because we're integrated health care delivery system, you really get a full picture of that's happening to patient," said Dr. Go.

The initial studies will focus on the long term effectiveness of heart procedures, such as the use of implanted stents in coronary arteries, and certain types of bypass surgery.

Stanford researchers will team with Kaiser to model the studies, which will potentially deliver much more detailed results than smaller clinical trials.

Meaning treatments that help patients like Geraldine, may ultimately help pioneer more effective treatments for patients across the country.

"I feel good about if it's going to help somebody out you know," said Geraldine.

The joint research project is being funded in part by a grant of nearly $4 million from the American Heart Association.


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