University of New England to work with Eastern Maine Medical Center as part of national research partnership

Dora Anne Mills
Dora Anne Mills

September 21, 2016

The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education announced that the University of New England has joined the former’s Nexus Innovations Network, a national research partnership testing new approaches to health care delivery and health professions education.

UNE joins 87 projects in 33 states already testing new models and methods of integrating health care practice and education. Each of the projects in the Nexus Innovations Network focuses on the real-world testing of effective interprofessional team-based strategies with the potential to improve the experience, outcomes and costs of health care.

In joining the Nexus Innovations Network, UNE will work with Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) to study the impact on students, clinicians and patients of implementing interprofessional education. "At UNE, our students are provided interprofessional team-based competencies while they are still on campus, before their clinical training," explained Dora Anne Mills, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, vice president for Clinical Affairs and director of the Center for Health Innovation. "As they enter clinical settings that help build those interprofessional team skills, such as at EMMC, we want to determine how those skills are impacting their learning, the way clinicians at EMMC practice, and the health outcomes of their patients," she said. "We are very excited to partner with EMMC in this ground-breaking research."

Interprofessional team-based care occurs when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds blend their expertise to provide comprehensive health services to patients, families and communities. Patients and, as appropriate, their families are also members of the health team. The concept is not new, but health systems, governmental agencies and educational institutions are beginning to look at how to fully implement it in practice and measure its outcomes on patient care.

"This research is an excellent match between an innovative health system and an innovative health and sciences university, with both serving Maine and growing the next generation of health professionals," said EMMC’s Felix Hernandez, M.D. "EMMC is a major training site for a variety of UNE health professions students, including those from osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physician assistant, physical therapy, occupational therapy and nurse anesthesia. By training some of these students in teams and researching which elements of team-based care are the most critical, we will be able to better serve our patients."

This IRB-approved project is estimated to take three years. Throughout the process, UNE and EMMC researchers will collect and submit HIPAA compliant data (i.e., without patients being identified) to the National Center where it will be aggregated with data from other projects and shared through reports and peer-reviewed publications, increasing evidence on the effectiveness and return on investment of interprofessional models in developing the skills necessary for high quality and efficient health care.

Read the Journal Tribune's coverage of the news

Learn more about the work occurring at UNE and other Nexus Innovations Network sites at

To learn more about the Center for Health Innovation, visit

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