Peoria, Illinois,
13:31 PM

Grant allows OSF to leverage Innovation Labs-academic partnerships to improve low childhood vaccination rates

OSF Innovation Labs

OSF Innovation and its partners at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria (UICOMP) and Illinois State University (ISU) in Normal, Illinois, have received a federal Human Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) grant of $10,000 to continue work to expand childhood vaccinations to children of low-income families in Central Illinois. 

Recent CDC data shows fewer children were vaccinated on time this year compared to last year, in part, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. HRSA invited grant applicants to propose and implement innovative approaches to increase access to and utilization of well-child visits and immunization services.

OSF is already part of the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program providing free vaccines to children whose families meet income guidelines. This new grant will fund vaccinations for children in families that might not qualify under those low-income guidelines. In addition, OSF will use the funding to purchase refrigerators for the mobile OSF Care-A-Van to store vaccines when going out into the community. A small portion of the grant will also support vaccine education in communities.

“The HRSA award is a competitive, multi-stage grant, and we will be working toward a second round of funding in the fall,” said OSF Design Lab Director Scott Barrows. “Our vision is to possibly expand the program throughout the state and refine efforts from what we have learned and data collected.”

John Vozenilek, MD, vice president and chief medical officer for OSF Innovation-Digital Health, Jump Simulation & Education Center.
“This mobile vaccine effort is part of a large-scale initiative using OSF Innovation Labs to improve the conditions that lead to health disparities. Each lab has its own best fit, and often projects can involve collaboration among the labs to ensure practical application of solutions to help vulnerable populations.” 
John Vozenilek, MD, vice president and chief medical officer for OSF Innovation-Digital Health, Jump Simulation & Education Center.

The Innovation Labs are creating scalable solutions that can improve access and quality of care for Medicaid patients throughout the state. OSF OnCall Digital Health enables community health workers to use well-designed tools that leverage analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence for outreach to underserved populations. OSF Innovation has engaged in targeted partnerships to develop the pipeline for diverse, future health care workers through its STEAM and Pre-Surgical Immersion offerings via Jump Simulation.

Through the mobile vaccination effort, OSF Innovation is tapping resources in its Data Science and Advanced Informatics Lab, Children’s Innovation Lab and its Design Lab to use advanced AI-informed technology to fuel mobile outreach. Pediatric nurses and doctors, along with community partners, will use the OSF Care-A-Van to expand vaccinations for children in underserved areas.

Barrows says the OSF Design Lab has again partnered with Dr. Adam Cross of UICOMP who is also clinical informaticist for the OSF Innovation Children’s Lab, Dr. Mary Stapel, director of OSF Community Care Clinics, and Population Health Manager Elise Albers of OSF HealthCare Children’s Hospital of Illinois, as well as with Dr. Shaoen Wu of ISU. The project aligns with the current Illinois Innovation Network (IIN). ISU research grant and current Jump ARCHES grant research. The grants are receiving additional research support from interns at the U of I, ISU, University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) and Bradley University.

Dr. Stapel will be working with community members and developing partnerships, particularly with schools that have a large percentage of low-income families. As summer approaches, community outreach will accelerate to meet families where they are.