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Cornell Tech and Weill Cornell Medicine Awarded Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Grant for Research on Technology and Home Health Aides

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Cornell Tech and Weill Cornell Medicine have been awarded a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) grant that will fund interdisciplinary research on the role of technology among home health aides caring for adults with heart failure.

The two-year $358,636 grant, is part of an RWJF initiative exploring how technology’s impact on infrastructure could help or hinder efforts to improve health equity in the United States.

Dr. Madeline Sterling

“We’re thrilled to receive this grant from RWJF,” said co-principal investigator Dr. Madeline Sterling, an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and a member of the Cornell Center for Health Equity, whose research focuses on social determinants of health in cardiovascular disease and home healthcare delivery for patients with heart failure. “Home health aides often serve as the eyes and ears for patients in the home, but few studies and interventions have focused on them. They do a great deal for these patients (weighing them, preparing low salt meals, reminding them to take medications), but the majority have not received training on the disease and often have trouble reaching other members of the healthcare team by phone when they try to report clinical changes in the field.”

The project will consist of three parts. First, Dr. Sterling and co-principal investigator Dr. Nicola Dell, an assistant professor in the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, will analyze the existing relationship between technology, home health aides and home healthcare delivery for patients with heart failure using a multi-stakeholder qualitative study. Second, they will conduct a landscape analysis of prior efforts to integrate technology into home health aides’ workflows. Third, they will convene an expert panel that will meet regularly throughout the grant period to explore ways in which technology could improve training and equity among the home health aide workforce. The project will be carried out in collaboration with the 1199SEIU – Home Care Industry Education Fund of the 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East -- the largest healthcare union in the nation.

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Dr. Nicola Dell

“We hope that we will emerge from this project with a clear sense of how to design new technology that could address some of the challenges that the home health aide workforce faces while caring for adults with this complex and highly prevalent disease,” said Dr. Dell, who is also a member of the Cornell Center for Health Equity. Dr. Dell’s work focuses on designing, building, and evaluating novel computing systems that improve the lives of underserved populations in the United States and around the world.

"New technologies have the potential to improve patient care in the home and better integrate home health aides into the clinical care team," said Nancy Barrand, senior adviser for program development at RWJF, the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health.

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