John D. Piette, Ph.D.
VA Senior Research Career Scientist
Professor of Public Health and Internal Medicine
Co-Director, Center for Managing Chronic Disease
Director, Program on Quality Improvement for Complex Chronic Conditions, VA HSRD & UMHS
Given the successes in research and clinical care for patients with chronic diseases, I'm thinking about how we can build on those achievements using the unique wealth of expertise among investigators in IHPI. One area that I think is critically important is figuring out how we can make patient-centered technology for monitoring health and supporting self-management more personalized. In terms of our clinical focus, I'm increasingly interested in interventions addressing some of the symptoms that really reduce patients' quality of life and complicate their self-care, such as depression and chronic pain.
Patient-centered care and personalized treatment are the new hallmarks of quality health services delivery. But our interventions using patient-facing technology tend to be rigid and "robotic" rather than adapting to each person's unique needs. I think we can do better by taking advantage of the lessons learned by our colleagues in computer science, particularly those working in areas such as artificial intelligence, data mining, and robotics. Depression and chronic pain remain incredibly common and are often what brings patients with other diseases such as diabetes in contact with the healthcare system. These disorders are critically important in their own right as well as when they are comorbidities, and we have an amazing mix of expertise and experience at IHPI for taking these issues on and making a major impact on people's lives. Addressing these challenges requires a truly cross-disciplinary approach, including researchers in public health, medicine, computer science, nursing, and other fields. I've learned a lot from those colleagues, which has kept my research fun as well as impactful.
We currently face the double whammy of increasing numbers of patients with complex chronic conditions and growing strains on limited healthcare dollars. To continue to improve patients’ health in a financially sustainable way, we have to change how we think about care and care management. I feel very fortunate to be working in IHPI with such an exciting group of investigators tackling these thorny problems that really will define how well we can serve our most vulnerable members of the community in the coming decades.