FAQs for Universities

How Do We Sign up?

· Sign-up instructions and documents for University Research Partners (universities, schools of pharmacy, and other schools) are here.

· Sign up instructions and documents for Strategic Action Partners are here.

· Sign up instructions for Funding Partners are here.

· Sign up instructions for individual Participants (PIs, researchers, graduate students, leaders, experts, innovators and other participants) are here.

What is the Opportunity?

As a University Research Partner, you (and/your PIs and research teams) will be joining with many other researchers, leaders, experts, innovators and students from leading universities, colleges of pharmacy, organizations, associations, foundations, and government agencies from across the US and states, to help address one of the biggest public health challenges in the US – non-optimized use of medications and vaccines (e.g. adverse drug events, non-adherence, misuse, abuse, and other challenges). Recent research by our group has identified potential benefits of addressing this challenge using an all stakeholder, research-driven, ecosystem-level approach.

What Makes this Study Unique?

What makes this study unique is the use of new science (service-dominant logic and service ecosystem design science), new methods (Scalable Transformation Action Research (STAR) and Research Regatta), and advanced collaboration tools and technologies (e.g. Google Workspace, Teams, Zoom), designed to enable many universities, researchers, organizations, associations, foundations and government agencies to work collaboratively – at scale – to address shared challenges in a way that has not, until now, been possible.

What Are the Study Goals?

The study has two goals, represented by two phases of activity.

· Phase 1, Planning (August 2021 – March 2022). In this phase, you and your investigator teams will help facilitate the co-creation of a 10 year ecosystem-level strategic framework and plan and prioritized national research agenda for the entire US medications ecosystem. This will be designed to save millions of lives and as much as $528 Billion per year in likely avoidable spending.

· Phase 2. Implementation (April 2022 – December 2031). University research partners will provide ongoing research and data to help guide action to optimize medications across the ecosystem.

What is the Role of University Research Partners?

University Research Partners will support the first phase of this study by co-leading study sections, helping to engage Strategic Action Partners and Funding Partners, assembling data and conduct analysis of data. Study Sections are special workgroups focused on topics – such as payment/practice transformation, interoperability, access and equity, or state-level transformation. Funding Partners are foundations, philanthropy, government agencies and others who financially support Study Sections. Strategic Action Partners are leaders and experts from leading state and national organizations, associations, foundations, and government agencies interested in medications and vaccines. They contribute both time and collaborative funding to support the planning and implementation processes.

What are the Expected Time Commitments of PIs, Investigators and Students?

During the unfunded “development” phase of the project (tentatively from September 2021 – January 2022), PIs may plan to spend an estimated 10 -15 hours a month, while other supporting researchers spend ~2-4 hours a month. Research office leaders, Deans, Chairs and others may also be invited to provide assistance to engage Strategic Action Partners (e.g. Medicaid, health plans, health systems, physician groups, pharmacies, pharma, etc.) and Funding Partners to provide financial support for the funded phases of the project.

Once collaborative funding is generated, planning grants may be issued to support planning, and analysis of data to generate larger grants. For example, a PI and research team at a School of Pharmacy might get a planning grant of $100,000 - $200,000 for a 6-12 month time period. At this point, time commitments will be based on the grant requirements.

What Are the “Outputs” of the Study?

The first output of the study is an evidence-based ecosystem-level strategic framework and plan and nationally prioritized research agenda for improving the US medications ecosystem for 2022 – 2031. This will include specific plans and research agendas for each study section. The second set of outputs (on the research side) is a series of larger-scale projects to support implementation of the plans from 2022 - 2031.

What is the “Process” for Co-Creating the Outputs?

As shown at the bottom of the strategic framework diagram, the process begins with researchers helping to organize and co-lead Study Sections focusing on medication and vaccine related topics at national and state levels. Study sections may include national payment/practice transformation, interoperability, quality measures, state-level plans, and special topics such as COVID and Influenza vaccines, maternal and child health, substance abuse disorder, access and equity, and so on. You can view / sign-up for study sections here.

Each study section then uses a structured process to identify near-consensus strategic priorities. Specifically, study section teams work to develop a ranked top-10 list of unmet patient needs, barriers to meeting those needs, strategies for overcoming barriers, and research priorities to support the strategies. A “Research Regatta” method is used to help everyone in each study section row together, efficiently, in tandem, using virtual tools.

What is a Research Regatta?

Imagine hundreds, or even thousands of people rowing together in boats of 7-15 people towards a shared goal (see pictures below). This is a Research Regatta. In academic terms, it is a Virtualized Nominal Group Technique Tournament. It is a way of doing fast track, structured brainstorming, virtually, and at large scale, to achieve near-consensus answers to questions among large groups of people.


Research Regatta Method

(A Virtualized Nominal Group Technique Tournament)
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What Are Study Sections? What are “Boats"?

Real rowing regattas have racing sections. A research regatta has study sections. Each study section is led by a group of researchers. Researchers organize invited participants into carefully structured “boats” (e.g., expert panels) of 7-15 people each. Often these will be multi-disciplinary, including, for example, patient advocates, physicians and nurses, pharmacists and health plans working together. Each boat is “steered” by a research facilitator. Crew members work together, virtually, to develop answers to questions (e.g. top the 10 ranked lists of needs, barriers, strategies and research priorities). First round boat answers move up to into a semifinals (preliminary integration) and finals (final integration) round. Repeated voting occurs until near-consensus decisions are reached about strategies and research priorities for each study section, and overall. Strategic priorities are then analyzed to construct high level goals and roadmaps. The process culminates in a virtual national summit (like a Regatta awards ceremony) with many presentations and discussions about how to move forward together, along with planning for future regattas and events.

How Are University Research Partners Paid?

The research funding roadmap (below) shows how university research partners are paid. To avoid funding bias, and support fast action, a collaborative funding model is used. After an initial start-up phase, the model seeks to pay many university researcher teams via research contracts to provide research support. Funding to support the research comes from: A. funding partners; and B. strategic action partners. See details here .

Do University Research Partners Have to Pay Anything?

No. However, in some cases, affiliated groups – like a teaching hospital, physician practice, or health plan or foundation – may want to join as a Funding Partner or Strategic Action Partner. In this case, they are encouraged to contribute. Funds will be used to support research.

Can We Sign a Letter of Acceptance at a Department or School Level?

Yes. Based on feedback and questions from some of you, we have modified our study design to make this possible. You can now sign-up as a University Research Partner at three levels:

1. School of Pharmacy Level – providing PIs and research team at this level

2. Other Schools/Departments providing PIs and research teams at this level

3. University Research Office level – Providing a university-wide role and assisting in identifying researchers, and developing opportunities across multiple schools

4. School / Department Level with a PI – Developing funded research opportunities for research teams in Schools of Pharmacy, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Business or other areas.

For example, we are happy to receive a letter of acceptance from a University Research Office (at a university level), and a separate letter of acceptance from a College of Pharmacy with a PI.

Who else is Involved in this project?

It is growing rapidly. Learn more about who is involved here.

How Do Researchers and Participants Get Trained?

We are seeking to have all training and orientation available digitally in a “self-serve” online learning format. Please visit the website at https://meds360.starstudy.org and visit instructions for getting started or learning center areas to learn more.

How Do We Learn More?

Lots of information is available on the project website here. More is being added weekly. You can read a university briefing document and related materials here. Or, you can attend a briefing, or set up a meeting.

What Are Next Steps for Joining as a School of Pharmacy or Other School or Department?

The following next steps are recommended.

1.) Identify an initial PI (or PIs) for this study. This may be someone from a school of pharmacy. However, it may also be an investigator in the school of medicine, nursing, public health, psychology, business or other relevant disciplines. It is also possible to have multiple PIs supporting multiple study sections.

2.) Identify study sections on which you’d like to focus your efforts (view here)

3.) Send in a non-binding letter of acceptance to serve as a University Research Partner. Make sure to include the names of the PIs, research office leads, and preferred study sections. Download here.

4.) RSVP for the Kick-off Meeting on September 14, 2021 1:00 - 2:30 pm ET. We recommend at least 1 person from each university and school of pharmacy attend if possible. RSVP here.

What Are Next Steps for Joining as a University Research Office?

1.) Consider Strategic Implications. University research office leaders may want to consider strategic implications of this opportunity. How can these offices help in communicating this opportunity to deans, chairs and investigators across multiple schools and departments? How can they help in recruiting Funding Partners and Strategic Action Partners to support the project in the short and longer terms? From a strategic perspective, the collaborative funding model, and service ecosystem design science framework, has potential to be extended to many types of problem in society. Could this model be used to address other pressing challenges in society? Type 2 Diabetes? Inequality? Climate change challenges? Media misinformation? And so on. What is the role of universities in today’s rapidly changing world? How can these kinds of large-scale university-research networks be organized to have maximum impact?

2.) Identify a research office leader to help coordinate activity across multiple schools or units and help recruit Strategic Action Partners and Funding Partners.

3.) Help identify one or more PIs who can lead this effort at school or department levels.

4.) Sign-up here.

Do University Research Partners Pay to Participate?

No. Exactly the opposite. The study is designed to generate substantial new research funding for all participating University Research Partners from 2022 – 2031, to support development of a much more robust evidence base to help guide transformational action to improve population health and wellbeing for US and other populations. The initial goal is to improve how medications and vaccines are delivered – a $528 billion dollar challenge affecting millions of people. However it is designed to expand from there to other priority population health challenges.

What is the Purpose of the RAPID Alliance Medications 360 Study?

The study goal is to organize a national / international network of leading universities, schools of pharmacy, and scholars, who will work, collaboratively, with one another, as well as with leading organizations, associations, government agencies, foundations, and others across the US and the 50 states, to address one of the biggest public health challenges in the US: non-optimized use of medications and vaccines. The medications challenge alone affects millions of people, and costs as much as $528 billion per year in likely avoidable spending in the US. We are using new science (service-dominant and service-ecosystem design science) and advanced collaboration tools and technologies to develop new approaches to address this challenge at scale. The medications project is designed to extend into many other areas, over time, as we learn, together, how to accelerate development and spread of transformation innovations for improving health and wellbeing in society, as a general discipline.

What Core Values are Guiding this Project?

  • Our core team is committed to an ethical framework we call the intrinsic-value framework. This involves a deep commitment to doing our best to honor and respect each person, in each conversation, as unique, special, and valuable. Every voice matters. Disputes are resolved through science and evidence. This theory helps sets the foundation for co-creating services effectively, in a way that can make a positive difference.

  • This is a public good effort. All results are published and shared for the public good.

  • This is a complex project, with a number of moving parts. None of us (yet) have enough resources to manage all of it. Yet the need is large, and urgent. It also goes well beyond medications and COVID. It is also how we build new infrastructure to address many health related challenges – including, likely, how to coordinate action around existential challenges like climate change, media misinformation, and increasing trust in societal institutions. As we learn to trust one another, we will also learn, together, how to co-create resources, including new funding, technologies and administrative support, to allow us to manage this complexity effectively.

Why Am I Receiving this Email?

This email is a communication from Dr. Judah Thornewill, Principle Investigator in the RAPID Alliance / STAR Study in the National Science Foundation Center for Health Organization Transformation at the University of Louisville (details here). We are seeking to enroll one or more research universities and/or schools of pharmacy per US state or territory to join this long-term study a University Research Partner. To this end, the research team has developed a list of senior research leaders, researchers and staff from each US university and/or school of pharmacy that satisfies the selection criteria. We are using a snowball recruiting method. We ask each person on this list to forward this email to others who you believe may be interested in participating this opportunity for your institution.

Can We Opt Out?

Yes. If you are sure you would like to be taken off this email list, please send an email. We will remove your name. We would appreciate you forwarding information to others who you believe may value knowing about this effort.

Who Else Is Involved?

You can access a list of all current university research partners, strategic action partners, funding partners, and other participants here.

Is this an IRB Approved Exempt Study?

Yes. The study is designed to bring together leading scholars, experts, leaders, innovators, staff and students to work, collaboratively, on this effort. Each individual participant fills out a registration form to gain access to the study materials. This form provides details about this study, and the rights and responsibilities of each participant. All university researchers are enrolled into the master IRB at UofL.

What’s the Payment Model for Universities / Schools / PIs?

The process begins with modest investments of time and effort time to support co-create the RAPID Alliance Strategic Framework 2022-2031. This is national strategic framework, plan and prioritized research agenda for optimizing medications and vaccines for US populations from 2022-2031. This includes work to recruit Strategic Action Partners (e.g., leading organizations, associations, government agencies, foundations and others) to participate in co-creating the strategic framework. Each strategic action partner is encouraged (but not required) to contribute from $5 - $50,000 each to help fund the planning and research processes. Thereafter, based on available funds, research teams may be funded through the following mechanisms:

  • Planning Grants – e.g. $200,000 to plan research for a state or national study section

  • Foundation Grants – e.g., from foundations and philanthropy

    • Option 1. Through the UofL Foundation and/or Sponsored Research Office

    • Option 2. Through your University foundation or SRO mechanisms

  • National Science Foundation I/UCRC Center Grants (requires separated application)

  • Larger grant and contracts (of many kinds)

    • Government Funders; Private Funders; Collaborative Funding; Philanthropy

How will Decisions about Research Funding be Made?

Each University Research Partner will have a seat on a University Research Partner Advisory Council. Best practices and processes will be used to include all parties in an open, transparent, evidence-based way, to guide decisions about allocations.

Can University Research Partners Apply for their Own Related Studies?

Yes. We encourage teams to organize focused on their areas of expertise. We hope to add value by enabling larger-scale collaboration, funding, and cross-connections. Lead universities can add the RAPID Alliance / STAR Study group as sub-grantees; or vice versa. We want everything to be value-driven, open, transparent, and focused on speeding up development and spread of innovations that improve population health and wellbeing.

How do Publications Work?

We are organizing a series of study sections. Selected research leaders will help co-lead each study section. Each research team is responsible for developing its own papers that contribute to the overall agenda. The UofL team will focus on papers in its specialty areas – including advances in collaboration science, service-ecosystem design science, ecosystem-analytics and other related topics. All study sections are listed here.

Other Questions?

Please let us know if have other questions or concerns. We are all learning together. More FAQs are listed on the project website here.