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Health Services Research & Development

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COIN: Charleston Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center (HEROIC); Charleston, SC

Charleston Health Equity and Rural Outreach Innovation Center

Director: Neal Axon, MD


About the COIN

This Center's mission is to improve access and equity in healthcare for all Veterans by eliminating geographic, racial/ethnic, and gender-based disparities.

Research Focus Areas

HEROIC’s main research focus is to ensure health equity and access to care by developing and testing interventions that improve access, quality of life, and reduce healthcare costs for targeted vulnerable Veteran populations.

Research to Impact for VeteRans (RIVRs)

The Research to Impact for VeteRans (RIVRs) program is a new HSR&D funding mechanism that gives researchers the opportunity to pursue a five-year impact goal. Each RIVR impact goal aligns with VA priority areas including VA legislative priorities (e.g., MISSION Act); cross-cutting ORD priorities (e.g. PTSD); other HSR&D defined clinical priorities (e.g. Health Equity); and HSR&D methodological priorities (e.g. Data Sciences, Implementation Sciences, Systems Engineering). Impact goals for RIVRS could include changes in VA policy or clinical guidelines, spread of operational processes across VISNs, scaling of an effective intervention to 2-3 additional sites, advancements in health services research methods, or any other impacts that have real-world effects on Veteran health and satisfaction.

Current RIVR project

Telehealth Research Collaborative

Principal Investigator: Anouk Grubaugh, PhD

The goal of this project is to speed research to impact for Veterans through a Telehealth Research Collaborative focused on expanding the use of Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT; i.e., the delivery of telehealth for Veterans in their homes or other private locations by providers located at a distal VA facility) throughout VAMCs nationwide. This will be accomplished through the development of improved methods/tools for CVT data capture, testing and refinement of these methods/tools at the local, regional, and national level, and dissemination of relevant deliverable products to VHA by the end of the 5-year funding period.

Research Projects & Collaborators

HEROIC’s HSR&D studies are aligned with its focus on improving access and equity in healthcare for all Veterans by eliminating disparities. HEROIC researchers lead numerous studies relating to health equity, access to care, and rural health that are supported by VA, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, private foundations, and other agencies. Currently, we are enrolling Veterans for studies investigating questions related to delivery of treatments for PTSD, diabetes, dementia, homelessness, organ transplants, as well as patients at risk for liver disease and lung disease.


HEROIC is comprised of a multidisciplinary group of investigators with specialized expertise in (1) management of chronic diseases (i.e., diabetes, hypertension, severe mental illnesses) and comorbid medical and psychiatric conditions; (2) novel intervention development for a range of medical and psychiatric conditions, most notably diabetes, stroke, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression; (3) use of technology to facilitate access to care (i.e., telehealth applications, web interventions); and (4) novel intervention development to reduce disparities across the full continuum of care (i.e., primary care, inpatient hospitalization, transitional care).

Partner Offices

Each COIN works closely with operational partners both within and outside the VA healthcare system. HEROIC’s partners include:

Questions about the HSR&D website? Email the Web Team.

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.