Essentia Institute of Rural Health supports rural health services research across the four-state area (Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Idaho) served by Essentia Health. Essentia Health is uniquely positioned to support the institute because it has an integrated care delivery laboratory and an organized group practice network in a large rural geographic area.
Core research staff, career scientists, the Essentia Health Institutional Review Board, the Essentia Institute of Rural Health Scientific Review Board, regulatory personnel, biostatisticians, grants management specialists and other support staff are extended to all Essentia Health affiliates by distance technology from the central research division in Duluth, Minnesota.
An electronic data warehouse combines health and other information from disparate sources across Essentia Health. The data warehouse is an important foundation for conducting research in an integrated healthcare system with an ultimate goal of improving the health and well-being of rural populations.
The Duluth Clinic and SMDC Health System, now part of Essentia Health, began sponsored clinical research in 1978 with participation in cancer clinical trials through the North Central Cancer Treatment Group funded by the National Cancer Institute. Over the last three decades, the research division has grown to include data analysts, clinical research coordinators and support staff (overall, 38 FTEs). Physicians (82) and other healthcare professionals (nurses, pharmacists, psychologists) are also engaged in clinical and health services research.
In 2009, we implemented a Web-based Integrated Medical Research Information System (iRIS). This enterprise-wide application integrates scientific review, human subject protection, grants/contracts management and study management into one application. iRIS is centrally managed, HIPAA compliant, password protected, and provides efficiency for data input while maximizing data output.
Our research focus areas include clinical, translational and rural health services research. Over the last 25 years our physicians and scientists have authored over 1,000 scholarly works from sponsored research projects. During a recent fiscal year, our research enterprise engaged over 1,800 human subjects in clinical trials or other studies, had 395 active research projects or clinical trials, with an additional $1.2 million of internal dollars spent on research. Our total research grant awards over the last five years is about $4 million.
Essentia Health Information Services maintains four data centers located in Fargo, North Dakota; Brainerd, Minnesota; and two large facilities in Duluth, Minnesota, occupying over 5,300 square feet. Our Information Services delivers and supports over 500 applications; among these are Epic electronic health record systems, Lawson Enterprise Resource Planning, and iRIS, an integrated research platform as well as numerous ancillary and business support applications.