UH Hilo DKICP receives grant to address Hawaiʻi health inequities

Date: Friday, October 21, 2022
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 932-7669

For Immediate Release

Faculty of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy were recently awarded a federal grant of $333,000 to develop a statewide infrastructure that identifies and works to correct existing medication use health disparities among Hawaiʻi’s indigenous populations. The grant is through the Minority Research Grant Program of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“In a previous research project funded by the CMS Innovation Center, called the Pharm2Pharm project, we demonstrated that pharmacists are essential to achieving higher quality, lower cost care in Hawaiʻi,” explained Karen Pellegrin, DKICP director of continuing education and strategic planning, and the grant’s principal investigator. “With this new CMS Health Equity award, we aim to adapt the Pharm2Pharm model and incorporate co-investigator Wes Sumida’s intervention funded through the University of Hawaiʻi’s Center for Pacific Innovations, Knowledge and Opportunities (PIKO) to further address health disparities in Hawaiʻi.

“We also aim to establish statewide infrastructure, through the Hawaiʻi Health Information Exchange, that can be used by any researcher to measure the impact of interventions designed to improve medication use,” she added.

Sumida, DKICP associate professor, explained that his current research seeks to understand critical factors related to medication non-adherence in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Island patients with diabetes and heart disease.

“The goal is to develop a brief screening tool that can be used by pharmacists to better address potential medication adherence barriers in these patients when treating chronic disease. We will be utilizing these results in our work funded by this new grant,” he said.

Pellegrin noted that the Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN®) Hawaiʻi is a key partner in this award. Part of a national network, CPESN Hawaiʻi has 33 high-performing pharmacies, including KTA pharmacies, Pharmacare, and many others across all counties in Hawaiʻi.

“The CPESN Hawaiʻi mission is to collaborate with healthcare systems, providers, payers and the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Health to optimize drug therapies to improve the health and wellness of our communities and reduce healthcare costs statewide. Kerri Okamura is the managing network facilitator for CPESN Hawaiʻi,” she said.

The University of Hawaiʻi is one of three minority-serving institutions receiving a CMS OMH grant, which is awarded to help advance health equity affecting racial and ethnic minority groups, people with disabilities, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, individuals with limited English proficiency, those residing in rural areas, and those adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.

“CMS continues to support research at minority-serving institutions that examines critical public health disparities and increases health equity research capacity,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

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