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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

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UMD Study Finds Connecting Uninsured Patients to Primary Care Could Reduce ER Use

May 6, 2015

Kelly Blake 301-405-9418
Hillery Tsumba 301-628-3425

Montgomery County, Md. Initiative Could Improve Health, Reduce Costs

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – An intervention to connect low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to a reliable source of primary health care shows promise for reducing avoidable use of hospital emergency departments in Maryland. A University of Maryland School of Public Health study evaluating the results of the intervention was published this week in the May issue of the journal Health Affairs

For twenty years, use of hospital emergency departments has been on the rise in the United States, particularly among low-income patients who face barriers to accessing health care outside of hospitals, including not having an identifiable primary health care provider. Almost half of emergency room visits are considered “avoidable.” The Emergency Department-Primary Care Connect Initiative of the Primary Care Coalition, which ran from 2009 through 2011, linked low-income uninsured and Medicaid patients to safety-net health clinics. 

“Our study found that uninsured patients with chronic health issues – such as those suffering from hypertension, diabetes, asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, depression or anxiety – relied less on the emergency department after they were linked to a local health clinic for ongoing care,” says Dr. Karoline Mortensen, assistant professor of health services administration at the University of Maryland School of Public Health and senior researcher. “Connecting patients to primary care and expanding the availability of these safety-net clinics could reduce emergency department visits and provide better continuity of care for vulnerable populations.”  

Funded by a grant from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the initiative engaged all five of the hospitals operating in Montgomery County, Maryland at the time, and four safety-net clinics serving low-income patients. Using “patient navigators,” individuals trained to help patients find the care they need and can afford, these hospitals referred more than 10,000 low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients who visited emergency departments to four local primary care clinics, with the goal of encouraging them to establish an ongoing relationship with the clinic and reduce their reliance on costly emergency department care. 

Two hospitals in Montgomery County who participated in the intervention continued the program after the initial grant period concluded because of the benefits they saw for patients and for reducing emergency department visits and associated costs. These hospitals are currently testing a new version of the intervention specifically deigned to link emergency department patients with behavioral health conditions to appropriate community-based services. 

While hospital administrators and health policy experts throughout the country are recognizing that access to primary care improves continuity of care for patients and reduces avoidable use of emergency departments, the implications of this project are particularly important for hospitals in Maryland, which are now operating under a unique all-payer model for hospital payments. Within this new payment structure, Maryland hospitals will have to meet ambitious spending, quality of care, and population health goals. Reducing avoidable use of emergency departments can help in reaching these goals.

The project provides promise not only for hospitals in Maryland but throughout the nation to improve health care experiences and outcomes for their patients. Shared learning systems were an integral component of the project so participants were learning from each other and sharing best practices throughout the project and that learning has now been documented and can be replicated in other communities.

“This was an incredibly rewarding project to work on,” says Barbara H. Eldridge, Manager of Quality Improvement at the Primary Care Coalition. “We created a learning system that permits us to sustain improved communication between patients and their providers, between hospital discharge planners and community based clinics, and across five hospitals operating in Montgomery County.” The initiative has proven successful in Montgomery County, Maryland and is being replicated in communities in other parts of the country. 

“Linking Uninsured Patients Treated In The Emergency Department To Primary Care Shows Some Promise In Maryland” was written by Theresa Y. Kim, Karoline Mortensen, and Barbara Eldridge and published in the journal Health Affairs

University Launches Dynamic, Interactive Information Website UMD Right Now

December 4, 2012

Crystal Brown 301-405-4618 crystalb@umd.edu

College Park, Md. – Today, the University of Maryland launched a brand-new multimedia news and information portal, UMD Right Now, which provides members of the media and the public with real-time information on the university and its extended community.

UMD Right Now replaces Newsdesk, which previously served as the university’s news hub and central resource for members of the media. The new site is aimed at reaching broader audiences and allows visitors to keep up with the latest Maryland news and events, view photos and videos and connect with the university across all of its social media platforms.

“We designed UMD Right Now to be a comprehensive, vibrant site where visitors can find new and exciting things happening at Maryland,” said Linda Martin, executive director, Web and New Media Strategies. “Through social media, video, photos and news information, we hope to engage visitors and compel the community to explore all that Maryland has to offer.”

The new website, umdrightnow.umd.edu, contains up-to-date news releases and announcements, facts and figures about the university, a searchable database of faculty and staff experts, information highlighting innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, additional resources for news media and other campus and athletics news.

“UMD RightNow is the place to go to find out all the things happening on and around campus on any given day,” said Crystal Brown, chief communications officer. “This website brings real-time news, events and information right to your fingertips.”

For more information and contact information for the Office of University Communications, please visit umdrightnow.umd.edu.

Building a Greater College Park Together

May 20, 2016

The University of Maryland is working with partners to create the modern land-grant university. Research and industry in lockstep. Public and private enterprise working in close collaboration. An academic and economic engine for our region and our nation.

UMD Researchers Examine Health Care Access for Booming Immigrant Populations on Maryland's Eastern Shore

May 19, 2016

Sara Gavin 301-405-1733

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Researchers from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Maryland reveal the surprising scope of new immigrant populations living and working along Maryland’s Eastern Shore and raise concerns about how an already overburdened rural health care system is struggling to meet basic needs. 

Assistant Professor and medical anthropologist Thurka Sangaramoorthy, Ph.D., M.P.H.Assistant Professor and medical anthropologist Thurka Sangaramoorthy, Ph.D., M.P.H., and graduate assistant Emilia Guevara conducted interviews with immigrants and health care providers throughout the nine Maryland counties that comprise the state’s Eastern Shore. The research is funded by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Dean’s Research Initiative and was recently featured in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

“I had no idea the level, the variety and the scope of immigration to the Eastern Shore,” Sangaramoorthy said. “There’s virtually no information on immigrants living in the region and frankly it was shocking to find out just how many people there are.”

Through extensive interviews conducted over the course of two years, the research team discovered large groups of men, women and children from Haiti and Latin America attracted to the Eastern Shore largely by unskilled labor opportunities in poultry, seafood and other agricultural industries. Because Maryland’s Eastern Shore has some of the highest poverty levels and worst health indicators in the state and country, Sangaramoorthy and Guevara focused on immigrants’ access to health services and challenges faced by local providers in dealing with the population shift. They found that immigrants were facing multiple barriers to health care—lack of health insurance coverage, high health expenditures, language barriers and non-citizenship status—and that a small, aging group of health and social service workers serving the region is being stretched dangerously thin. 

Workers picking crabs on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

“You’re talking about literally a handful of people who comprise the health safety net of nine counties in Maryland,” Sangaramoorthy said. “I’m constantly thinking about what happens next. What happens when they go?”

As other, rural agriculture-based areas of the country—places without previous concentrations of immigrants—are experiencing similar population surges, Sangaramoorthy and Guevara say more research is needed overall on immigrant health and the effect of immigration on rural health care. The research team will continue their work on Maryland’s Eastern Shore this summer for a third year. 

UMD, COPT Welcome New Innovation Partners, Announce Speculative Office Building

May 19, 2016

Katie Lawson 301-405-4622 

New 75,000-square-foot building will include flexible floorplans to attract businesses and organizations that focus on research and technology

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Corporate Office Properties Trust (“COPT”) (NYSE: OFC), in partnership with the University of Maryland, will break ground on a new 75,000-square-foot building at 5801 University Research Court. The building aims to attract businesses and organizations that focus on research and technology, as COPT’s existing 240,000 square feet are 100% occupied. 

Located near a current Green Line Metro stop and adjacent to a future Purple Line stop, this is the third building in the joint venture partnership between COPT and the university.  Consisting of three 25,000-square-foot floors with flexible floorplans and Class-A finishes, the building will also include an outdoor plaza to provide an enhanced pedestrian experience that maximizes the value of its proximity to growing retail and residential options nearby.  

The public-private partnership between the university and COPT encompasses 128 acres dedicated to research and innovation, and is home to leading research organizations in environmental and earth science, food safety, agriculture policy, language and national security. 

“We are honored to expand our venture with the University of Maryland,” stated Stephen E. Budorick, COPT’s President and CEO.  “This location’s proximity to the Metro, as well as being situated within the broad array of R&D and incubator spaces that foster entrepreneurialism and thought leadership in various technology industries, will support durable demand for this development. In our view, the venture district is poised for dynamic expansion.” 

“This new development will strengthen our ability to attract new research activities and businesses to the state of Maryland,” said UMD Vice President and Chief Research Officer Patrick O’Shea. “As the Modern Metropolitan Model of the 21st Century Land-Grant University, it is our duty and our honor to foster this vibrant ecosystem for economic diversification and research innovation.” 

Nearby buildings are fully at capacity, and construction of a building on spec serves as an indication of office market trends in Prince George's County, according to leaders in the region. 

“COPT’s decision to proceed with this new 75,000-square-foot office building represents a major milestone in Prince George’s County’s economic resurgence.  It is the first speculative office building announced in this County in at least a decade, and represents a sign of the private sector’s confidence in the new business climate we have tried to create,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. “This project is coming to fruition because of the great partnership between the University of Maryland and Prince George’s County.  With proximity to Metro, MARC, and the coming Purple Line rail options, in addition to the connection to the University, COPT has chosen the perfect location for this quality proposal.”

“We’re thrilled at the possibility of attracting top-tier businesses and organizations to Prince George’s County to not only fuel our economy, but bring new jobs and opportunities to County residents,” said Prince George’s County Council Vice Chair Dannielle M. Glaros. “Having a cohesive vision between the County, the municipalities of Riverdale Park and College Park, and the university has made this possible.” 

“As we prepare for the arrival of Prince George’s County’s first Whole Foods Market, we are pleased to welcome 75,000 square feet of new office space to Riverdale Park,” said Vernon Archer, Mayor of Riverdale Park. “With our close proximity to the university’s thriving startup culture and the coming Purple Line, Riverdale Park continues its rapid economic growth during a very exciting time for our community.”

Adjacent to the university and bordered by Paint Branch Parkway, Kenilworth Avenue and River Road, this area was honored as a 2015 Outstanding Research Park by the Association of University Research Parks.

UMD Announces Final Round of 2016 Sustainability Fund Projects

May 17, 2016

Andrew Muir 301-405-7068

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland Office of Sustainability has announced the final round of Sustainability Fund projects approved for 2016.  The Sustainability Fund allocates money for students, faculty and staff to finance projects that will improve sustainability or implement sustainability initiatives on campus. 

Projects approved for funding by the Student Advisory Subcommittee and the University Sustainability Council include: 

“This year, we again received a number of great project proposals and a wide variety involving student research, expanding sustainable behaviors and furthering campus sustainability goals,” said Scott Lupin, Director, Office of Sustainability. “The Sustainability Fund has proven to be an essential part of turning many ideas into real projects.”

The Anytime Dining grant is a part of a much larger Dining Services initiative set to begin in fall 2016. The program will eliminate dining points but most importantly for sustainability, it will eliminate over an annual six million disposable items from campus dining halls.    

“Two exciting features of Anytime Dining are the elimination of food insecurity among resident students and the improvement in sustainability outcomes for Dining Services,” said Colleen Wright Riva, Director, Dining Services. “Resident Students will no longer have to keep track of the price of individual food items or the number of times they visit the dining halls and they will have access to many additional healthy options. Although the campus will have to adjust to dining in the dining halls, this change will result in the elimination of 6.3 million pieces of disposable products from the campus waste stream. Together, these features are a huge win for the University of Maryland campus.” 

Another significant milestone for the Sustainability Fund occurred this year, as students and the University Sustainability Council elected to increase the amount of funding available for Sustainability Mini-Grants.  The Fund will now provide $20,000 in total funding each year for Sustainability Mini-Grants, doubling the previous available funds of $10,000.  Past campus projects and initiatives funded through mini-grants include the Green Squad Challenge, student sustainability field trips, lecture speakers and small scale research projects.   

“We are excited to receive an increase in funding for mini grants, which expands our ability to fund smaller scale projects that nevertheless have a big role in enabling students, faculty and staff to pursue a variety of green initiatives,” said Maya Spaur, Director of Sustainability for the Student Government Association. “Our mini grant projects include helping to fund recycling gloves on campus, teaching students about sustainability issues of globalization, composting workshops, and an environmentally oriented alternative breaks program. We are eager to see what new projects will be in store next year!”

Transportation was also an area of particular focus for this final round of grants. 

The Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) played a role in securing two grants for projects that aim to increase sustainable transportation on campus: a collaborative study on “How to Increase Commuting by Mass Transit,” with the National Center for Smart Growth and the Office of Sustainability and additional funding to install more bike racks on campus.  

"Providing safe and convenient bicycle parking is an essential part of getting more people on campus to choose active and sustainable transportation options,” said David Allen, Executive Director, Department of Transportation Services. “It also cuts down on people locking bikes to trees, benches, and railings which can be unsightly and unsafe." 

The Sustainability Fund was created in April 2007, when 91 percent of undergraduate students voted in favor of increasing student fees to create a University Sustainability Fund. Since 2011, the fund has granted over $1.5 million to 90 sustainability projects. 

Applications for 2016-2017 Sustainability Fund projects will be accepted starting this summer.  The priority deadline to submit an application will be October 15 with an extended deadline of January 15.  

For more information about the University Sustainability Fund: sustainabilityfund.umd.edu 

The 'Echoverse': A New Way to Think About Brand-Consumer Interactions

May 16, 2016

Greg Muraski, 301-405-5283,  
Roland Rust, Co-Author/Researcher, 301-405-4300

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Most studies of the interactions between companies and consumers look at one piece of the puzzle: Advertising or social media or news coverage or "consumer sentiment" as measured in surveys. A new study from researchers at the University of Maryland, University of Tennessee and Massey University examines how messages about brands across various channels interact in a complex set of feedback loops the authors call the "echoverse." And the study offers advice for managers on navigating this new complex media world.

"You can't just be in your silo," says Roland T. Rust, Distinguished University Professor and David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing at UMD’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. "You have to manage all of your brand communications as a big system."

In addition to offering an unprecedented look at the interdependence of media, corporate communications, and information emanating from consumers, the study underscores how the importance of Twitter in brand management has exploded since 2010—even more than one might expect—and how the influence of other channels has waned. Consumer sentiment, for instance, a snapshot of how people feel about brands, is not nearly as important as it used to be. The study focused on the four top financial service firms from 2007 through 2013, a tumultuous period for that sector: Bank of America, Citibank, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

The authors analyzed the volume and tone of messages in different media: articles in top newspapers; tweets over the period that emanated from or mentioned the banks; press releases; ad spending; and consumer sentiment. As a measure of business outcomes, the authors used deposits on a quarterly basis. They controlled for factors that would affect all banks simultaneously, such as general economic conditions. All told, the authors write, theirs is "one of the most comprehensive datasets in the brand communications literature."

To capture the "valence," or tone, of most messages, they used automated linguistic analysis. And to spotlight changes over time, they divided the dataset into two groups: 2007-2010 and 2011-2013. While people often talk loosely about an "echo chamber," this study offers an empirically rooted picture of how it actually works. Among the findings:

  • Negativity feeds on itself. News articles with a negative tone lead to an increase in negatively toned tweets—and vice versa. Negative news articles breed more of the same, and negative tweets prompt more negative tweets. Such negative spirals lead to fewer deposits in banks. (Early in the period studied, positive feedback loops were more common. Later, the negative spirals became the norm. This may be partly due to the rise of online media, but traditional media also appears to feed off its own negativity more often these days.) 
  • Some parts of the echoverse influence each other equally. In other cases, influence goes one way. Traditional newspaper articles strongly influence word of mouth (Twitter, in this case); likewise, tweets affect the tone of news stories. In contrast, while Twitter influences consumer sentiment, consumer sentiment had little influence on what was said in Twitter. "This is in line with the opinion leadership role of the Twittersphere," the authors write. Companies issued more press releases when Twitter sentiment soured than when consumer sentiment did. 
  • Press releases actually work. This surprised the authors, as press release are an often overlooked part of the echoverse. But positive press releases by companies could lift the tone of third-party tweets about the banks, and even lift customer deposits. 
  • Advertising bypasses the echoverse. Traditional ad buys did not affect traditional media coverage in a statistically significant way; nor did they affect tweet volume or tone, or consumer sentiment. Advertising did increase consumer deposits, however—consistent with existing literature suggesting advertising has a slow, long-term payoff. 

The study also found that some banks had more effective social media strategies than others. Bank of America, the study found, was able to reduce the number of negative tweets mentioning the company, and even reduce negative news stories, by sending out more tweets. Wells Fargo could not. Unlike other banks, Bank of America, was also able to increase consumer deposits by ramping up its tweets. The authors suggested this is because Bank of America's main strategy was to send direct tweets to customers with concerns, whereas other banks were more likely to use Twitter as a kind of broadcast-advertising medium. (There was also some evidence that "high volume, consistent, moderately toned" tweets were more effective than more enthusiastic tweets that consumers may read as inauthentic).

"Managers are used to a one-to-many model of communication," Rust says. "But more and more, they have to move to a one-to-one approach to be effective. On the other hand, consumer word of mouth used to spread one-to-one. More and more consumers are one-to-many in their brand communications."

The paper also implies that the considerable money companies spend on monitoring social media, including predictive analytics—predicted to reach $136 billion by 2020—is worth it.

"Brand Buzz in the Echoverse," by Kelly Hewett of the University of Tennessee; William Rand, assistant professor of marketing at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland; Roland T. Rust, Distinguished University Professor and David Bruce Smith Chair in Marketing at the Robert H. Smith School; and Harald J. van Heerde of Massey University, is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing

Electronic version of the study is available to media on request. Write to gmuraski@rhsmith.umd.edu.

DeVos Institute of Arts Management at UMD Announces New Class of Fellows

May 16, 2016

Graham Binder, University of Maryland, 301-405-4076
Joseph Heitz, DeVos Institute of Arts Management, 301-314-0957

Thirteen executives from six countries will take part in arts management intensive

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland welcomes a new class of arts managers to its fellowship program, marking the first cohort to begin the program since the Institute transitioned to the University from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2014. 

Next month, 13 arts managers from 6 countries will begin the Institute’s highly competitive fellowship program that provides practical training in arts administration. The class will be in residence in Washington, D.C. and College Park, Md. for a month-long arts management intensive led by DeVos Institute executives, consultants, and experts from the field. The fellowship is a three-year program, and participants will return for one month in both 2017 and 2018. The fellowship program provides:

  • Intensive academic training in nonprofit management, finance, planning, fundraising, evaluation, and marketing;
  • Access to leaders of cultural institutions from throughout the United States, including site visits to select institutions; and
  • Personalized mentoring, both during and between the month-long residencies.

“This year’s Fellows were selected in keeping with our mission: to train, support, and empower game changers in our field,” said DeVos Institute President Brett Egan. “In our opinion, these individuals are amongst the most talented arts managers working today. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their pursuit to strengthen their organizations and communities.”

To date, the Institute’s fellowship program has served nearly 200 arts managers from 53 countries. DeVos Institute Chairman Michael M. Kaiser launched the fellowship program in 2001 during his tenure as President of the Kennedy Center. In 2008, the Institute introduced the current, intensive model of one month in residence each summer for three years. 

More than 450 arts managers from around the world applied to begin the DeVos Institute’s fellowship program in 2016. Click here to view the list of new fellows.

The DeVos Institute’s fellowship program is made possible with the support of the University of Maryland. 

More Salt Equals More Power for Safe, Green Water-Based Battery Tech

May 13, 2016

Melissa Andreychek 301-405-0292

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – With just a pinch more salt, a team of researchers at the University of Maryland, the Army Research Laboratory and colleagues have added new power to a potentially breakthrough  battery technology that is safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than today’s lithium-ion batteries.

The latest findings advance the team’s earlier work on groundbreaking “water-in-salt” lithium ion battery technology. The researchers have found that adding a second salt to the water-based (aqueous) batteries increases their energy capacity, but still without the fire risk, poisonous chemicals, and environmental hazards of lithium ion batteries that dominate the portable electronics market.

“Our purpose was to invent an aqueous lithium ion battery that is absolutely safe, green, and cost-efficient, while delivering energy density comparable to commercial lithium ion batteries,” said Liumin Suo, postdoctoral research associate in UMD’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “We believe our batteries will have very wide applications including electric energy storage, airspace devices, and portable electric devices.”

A peer-reviewed paper based on the study was published recently in the journal Angewandte Chemie as a Very Important paper (VIP).

The team of researchers—led by Chunsheng Wang, professor in UMD’s Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, and Kang Xu, senior research chemist and fellow at ARL—said their work demonstrates a major advance in water-based batteries by further increasing the voltage, or power, of an aqueous battery.

“Our invention has the potential to transform the energy industry by replacing flammable, toxic lithium ion batteries with our safe, green water-in-salt battery,” said Wang. “This technology may increase the acceptance and improve the utility of battery-powered electric vehicles, and enable large-scale energy storage of intermittent energy generators like solar and wind.”

The researchers said their technology holds great promise, particularly in applications that involve large energies at kilowatt or megawatt levels and in applications where battery safety and toxicity are primary concerns, including non-flammable batteries for airplanes, naval vessels, or spaceships.

“All this leads to a safe lithium ion technology that is free of any fire and explosion hazard, benefiting both the soldier and the civilian,” said Arthur Cresce, an author on the paper and research chemist with ARL. “For instance, energy storage units of the electrical microgrids, which would manage energy produced and harvested in camp, could rely on a WiSE-based battery bank to store and release electricity without the safety and environmental concerns, increasing the camp's self-reliant energy capability.”

“The water-in-salt electrolytes developed by this group have unexpectedly opened the possibility of high-voltage aqueous electrochemical systems, impervious to water splitting reactions. The new water-in-bisalt electrolytes, incorporating two or more lithium salts, may soon lead to safer, cheaper, and longer lasting water-based lithium-ion batteries,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Professor Martin Bazant, a leading battery researcher who was not involved in the study.

At UMD’s 2016 Celebration of Innovation and Partnerships on May 9, Wang, Xu, Suo, and the rest of their research team won Invention of the Year: Physical Sciences for their groundbreaking “water-in-salt” aqueous lithium ion battery technology.

This work was supported by DOE ARPA-E (DEAR0000389), the Maryland NanoCenter and its Nisp Lab and SAC Lab, and ARL Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials.

The research paper, “Advanced High-Voltage Aqueous Lithium-Ion Battery Enabled by ‘Water-in-Bisalt’ Electrolyte,” Liumin Suo, Oleg Borodin, Wei Sun, Xiulin Fan, et al., was published online April 27 in the journal Angewandte Chemie.


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This statement is in response to an incident that occurred on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at The Courtyards at the...
May 19
UMD researchers reveal concerns about how an already overburdened rural health care system is struggling to meet basic... Read
May 19
New 75,000-square-foot building will include flexible floorplans to attract businesses and organizations that focus on... Read
May 17
The fund allocates money for students, faculty and staff to finance projects that will improve sustainability or... Read