Three faculty members at SDSU’s School of Public Health have each received a $50,000 pilot project award under the SDSU HealthLINK Center. The SDSU HealthLINK Center is a cooperative agreement funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (Drs. Guadalupe X. Ayala & Kristen J. Wells, MPIs). The Center supports an Investigator Development Core that funds junior faculty members’ research projects with a goal of studying minority health and reducing health disparities. Read about Dr. Emily Schmied’s study in part two of three of SDSU’s HealthLINK Center series.
In collaboration with Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD), which is the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in the region, Dr. Emily Schmied is looking at how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting healthcare utilization and health outcomes among patients with type 2 diabetes. Her pilot project will use a mixed-methods, two-phase approach. In the first phase, anonymized and de-identified electronic health records (EHR) data of all patients with type 2 diabetes will be examined to determine if and how healthcare utilization has changed since the start of the pandemic. Some examples include the number of healthcare visits, lab tests, and if patients are utilizing telehealth. Research from previous natural disasters shows that care is often disrupted during times of crisis, which ultimately translates to worse management of type 2 diabetes, particularly among health disparity populations.
In the second part of her pilot project, Dr. Schmied will interview healthcare providers at FHCSD, as well as patients with type 2 diabetes, to determine how patients were affected during the pandemic, what is it like to manage diabetes during this time, if they utilized telehealth and what their experiences were like, and what other factors affected their ability to manage diabetes during this time. The goal of the interviews is to bring to light how patients and providers were affected by the pandemic and what they might need going forward to prevent the widening of health disparities.
As a public health professional, Dr. Schmied’s number one priority is to understand and address disparities that occur within our community. About ten years ago, Dr. Schmied also worked with SDSU Professor, Dr. Guadalupe X. Ayala, in conducting her dissertation research on disparities in chronic diseases primarily in Imperial County. When Dr. Schmied saw the opportunity to apply for the SDSU HealthLINK Center Pilot Projects, she wanted continue the work that she started ten years ago in the Southern California community.