HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Northern Kentucky University partners with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to establish innovative health care practices and technologies for treating patients with rheumatic heart disease (RHD).
The American Health Association awarded Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center $2.5 million as part of its new Strategically Focused Research Network. Children’s is teaming up with nine institutions, including NKU and the Rheumatic Heart Disease Research Collaborative in Uganda, to develop mobile technologies and increase evidence-based care for those living with the disease.
Rheumatic Heart Disease is a condition that can cause permanent damage to heart valves amongst different organs. RHD is global health issue impacting more than 40 million people and is more common in impoverished countries, such as Uganda.
“This project is extremely important in our current environment, and it allows our faculty and students to engage in a large, multi-disciplinary, international research project,” said Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, Institute for Health Innovation executive director and vice president for Health Innovation at NKU. “Our students have opportunities to work on this project locally and in Africa.”
Children’s is leading the practice and technology development that will be taken to Uganda. As the Rheumatic Heart Disease Research Collaborative in Uganda implements the new practices, NKU will play a key role in analyzing the data and translating its successes domestically. NKU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics is supporting the project’s data analysis and the College of Health and Human Services will be supporting cross-disciplinary learning experiences for students engaged in the research.
“The technologies developed could change how health care is provided in rural areas—both in the Commonwealth and across the nation—where WIFI and cell phone coverage is still problematic,” said Dr. Hardcastle. “Our goal is to spread access to portable, internet-based technologies that are easy to use and don’t require robust connections.”
NKU’s Institute for Health Innovation will help implement the health care solutions in rural areas — both in the commonwealth and across the nation. The IHI opened in 2018 to address the many layers of health challenges in communities. In the past year, they have received three HRSA grants to address substance use disorder and healthcare gaps in the eight-county Northern Kentucky region.