News
December 1, 2020

OPTIMISTIC leader receives IU Geriatrics Legacy Award

Regenstrief Institute research scientist and Indiana University School of Medicine associate professor Kathleen Unroe, M.D., MHA, received the Indiana University Geriatrics Legacy Award. She is just the third person to be given this honor.

The award recognizes physicians who have performed extraordinary work in the field of geriatrics, influencing colleagues, staff, students and patient care. Kathryn Frank, PhD, R.N., the IU School of Medicine geriatrics program administrator, presented the award to Dr. Unroe during the final summit for the OPTIMISTIC project.

OPTIMISTIC, which stands for Optimizing Patient Transfers, Impacting Medical quality and Improving Symptoms: Transforming Institutional Care, was a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid-funded demonstration project designed to reduce unnecessary transfers to the hospital for people living in nursing homes. It was led by Dr. Unroe and recently wrapped up after eight years.

In the OPTIMISTIC program, nurses and nurse practitioners are embedded in nursing homes to provide direct support to long-stay residents and their families as well as education and training to facility staff. These specially trained health professionals also led care management reviews to optimize chronic disease management, reduce unnecessary medications and clarify care goals.

The first phase of the study reduced unnecessary hospitalizations by one third. The second phase tested a different care reimbursement model. That data is still being analyzed.

Dr. Unroe has launched the OPTIMISTIC model into a new start-up company called Probari.

The other two individuals to previously receive the IU Geriatrics Legacy Award are Christopher Callahan, M.D., the founding director of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research at Regenstrief Institute, and Steve Counsell, M.D., the current and founding director of IU Geriatrics.

Dr. Unroe was also selected as a 2020 Showalter Scholar for her contributions to IU School of Medicine.

About Regenstrief Institute

Founded in 1969 in Indianapolis, the Regenstrief Institute is a local, national and global leader dedicated to a world where better information empowers people to end disease and realize true health. A key research partner to Indiana University, Regenstrief and its research scientists are responsible for a growing number of major healthcare innovations and studies. Examples range from the development of global health information technology standards that enable the use and interoperability of electronic health records to improving patient-physician communications, to creating models of care that inform practice and improve the lives of patients around the globe.

Sam Regenstrief, a nationally successful entrepreneur from Connersville, Indiana, founded the institute with the goal of making healthcare more efficient and accessible for everyone. His vision continues to guide the institute’s research mission.

About IU School of Medicine

IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.

About Kathleen Unroe, M.D., MHA

In addition to being a research scientist at Regenstrief Institute, Kathleen Unroe, M.D., MHA, is an associate professor at Indiana University School of Medicine and a practicing geriatrician.

  • Kathleen Unroe

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