The Health Care Delivery Institute (HDI) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has signed a five-year strategic affiliation agreement with the Visiting Nurse Associations of New England (VNANE) and its Clinically Integrated Network of home health and hospice providers. The affiliation agreement provides a framework to collaborate on research, educational and technology development projects that improve home health care delivery.

“Today, more health care is being delivered in the home and community and that will continue to increase in the years to come. At HDI we look for opportunities to make a positive impact across the whole continuum of health care delivery, so we are pleased to be teaming-up with home care experts,” said Vera Tice, managing director of HDI. “The goal of this new collaboration is to leverage our respective strengths for the betterment of patients and health care delivery in the home.”

VNANE is an umbrella organization that provides a range of administrative and support services for its members which are non-profit, community-based home health care agencies in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. VNANE is the largest provider network of its kind in New England. Its members deliver a comprehensive array of home health care and hospice services including skilled nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, medical social work, nutrition counseling and end-of-life care.

“We are excited to begin this relationship with WPI,” said Everett M. (Ed) Devaney, FACHE, president and chief executive officer of VNANE. “We see a lot of opportunities to blend the clinical experience of our member organizations with the research, educational and engineering expertise at WPI and work on a wide range of projects that will benefit patients at home and our professionals who deliver their care.”

HDI is a university-wide multidisciplinary research and education organization that includes more than 30 research teams at WPI. HDI works collaboratively with industry, external healthcare providers, other academic and government partners to develop new patient-centric innovations to improve care and lower costs. WPI faculty researchers affiliated with HDI work in areas such as systems engineering, healthcare informatics and data analytics, digital health, advanced robotics (surgical, rehabilitative, assistive), disease management, and portable medical devices for monitoring and imaging.

Among the early initiatives now being explored through the HDI/VNANE collaboration are development and testing of sensors for the home to monitor patient wellbeing and detect falls; offering an online systems engineering course customized for home healthcare providers to help improve their workflow processes; and early-stage clinical field testing of devices and mobile applications for health care delivery under development at WPI.