Blue KC Awards Grants Supporting Significant Medical Developments in KC Region

For more information contact:
Kelly Cannon

KANSAS CITY, MO. (August 15, 2016) — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) in partnership with Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) has awarded the 2016 Blue KC Heath Outcomes Research Grants. The selected projects are in autism, infant fever, heart failure, and end-of-life care. Using an external scientific peer review panel, four innovative projects were chosen that will impact patient care in the Kansas City region.

“At Blue KC, we’re always pushing to create innovative programs to improve healthcare and are constantly searching for the best solutions to new challenges. We’re proud to support local organizations that share that vision. We’re dedicated to continuing our partnership with Kansas City Area Life Sciences and know these four projects will ultimately lead to improvements in the health and wellness of the Kansas City community,” said Danette Wilson, Blue KC President and CEO.

“Outcomes research is an identified strength of our region from the ‘Path to 2025’ report, further strengthened by Blue KC’s commitment to fund this critical area,” said Dr. Wayne Carter, KCALSI president and chief executive officer. “We are very pleased to work with Blue KC to fund the highest quality research that turns their commitment into an over 8x return in future grant dollars and better patient outcomes to our community.” This marks the fifth consecutive year that KCALSI has managed the grants program for Blue KC.

This year’s grant recipients and a brief description of their research programs follow.

Linking Autism Screening in Primary Care to Long Term Health Outcomes

Dr. Cy Nadler, a Children’s Mercy Hospital investigator will focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which is a disorder of brain development. ASD appears in early childhood and has significant effects on a patient’s health across their lifespan.

“One in 64 children has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, costing the United States an estimated $61 billion each year. Early identification of ASD is crucial because treatment is most effective when delivered early in a child’s development,” explains Dr. Cy Nadler, Clinical Psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital. “However, we need evidence that screening for autism in primary care supports this process. Our research will help determine whether routine screening is actually associated with improved child health outcomes and rates of access to treatment.”

Successful project completion will likely lead to future health recommendations supporting the importance of primary care screening and enhancing access to early healthcare services improving patient quality of life.

The Creation, Implementation, and Validation of a Smart Phone-Based Heart Failure Registry

With an increasing demand for integrating data to improve medical care outcomes, Dr. Michael Nassif, a physician at Saint Luke’s Hospital will create a smartphone app serving as a tool for clinical management in heart failure patients. With the help of the grant from Blue KC, this project will deliver a way to collect patient-centered data, including health status questionnaires, weights, medications and resource utilization.

“With rising healthcare costs there is an increasing demand on providers to demonstrate that therapies improve patient outcomes and quality of life. The serial collection of quality and outcomes data, however, remains difficult. Traditional registries can cost up to $2,500 per patient for only six months of follow-up,” says Dr. Michael Nassif, Outcomes Research Fellow at St. Luke’s Hospital. “We created this app to address a critical gap in current care by cost-effectively collecting patient-reported data.”

This will enable heart failure patients to input their medications, hospitalizations, office visits and complications into the app which links to their previous medical data. The app will automatically alert the patient for follow-up care.

Reducing Evaluation Variability in Infants with Sepsis

Over 400,000 infants with fever are evaluated annually for possible sepsis due to a bacterial or viral infection. If untreated, sepsis can result in permanent disability or death, so infants with fever often experience invasive tests to determine whether infection is present. While proven clinical guidelines are capable of identifying infants at low sepsis risk, most clinicians ignore these guidelines.

Experts in infants with fever at Children’s Mercy Hospital have developed a mobile application, iGuideline, which provides doctors with decision support that can be used at the bedside. The app incorporates individual patient information to determine the appropriate medical intervention for an infant with fever.

“We expect that use of the iGuideline app will reduce the proportion of low-risk feverish infants who will be unnecessarily hospitalized or receive unnecessary diagnostic tests or antibiotics,” states Dr. Russel McCulloh. “The results of our study will help define the role that mobile apps can play in improving clinical practice in the acute setting, which will directly benefit patients, families, and health care providers.”

“Coaching on End-of-Life (EOL) Heart Failure Care with Caucasians and African Americans”

The grant from Blue KC will allow the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) to create a project that tests a coaching intervention for heart failure patients and their caregivers to engage in end-of-life discussions specific to home care. Studies have shown that early end-of-life discussions result in care with dignity and reduce repeat hospitalizations while increasing use of hospice and home services.

The mediation uses step-by-step coaching with feedback methods, and culturally sensitive approaches. “This project builds on our team’s past results to determine end-of-life care for advanced heart failure that aligns with patients and their family members preferences”, explains Dr. Piamjariyakul. Dr. Marge Bott, Associate Professor and Associate Dean of Research will oversee the project at KUMC.

Information about the Blue KC Health Outcomes Research Grants, including eligibility, review criteria and application procedures, can be found on the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute’s website at

For More Information, Contact:
Dr. Keith Gary, KCALSI Vice President,
(816) 753-7700

Kelly Cannon, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
(816) 395-3711

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, the largest not-for-profit health insurer in Missouri and the only not-for-profit commercial health insurer in Kansas City, has been part of the Kansas City community since 1938. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City provides health coverage services to more than one million residents in the greater Kansas City area, including Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas and 30 counties in Northwest Missouri. Our mission: to use our role as the area’s leading health insurer to provide affordable access to health care and to improve the health of our members. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information on the company, visit its website at

About Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute:
Through its Research Development Grants program, KCALSI manages a variety of individual grants for area corporations and trusts, helping them identify proposals with the best scientific, medical and technical merit. Research grants are awarded to generate initial results and stimulate the submission of major multidisciplinary research proposals to government or private agencies. KCALSI’s Research Development Grants program includes proposal review, evaluation by subject matter experts, written reviews for all applicants, and post-award management.