September 28, 2023

IHPI Honors Dr. Melissa Elafros

Dr. Elafros received the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation's (IHPI) Sandy-Hassmiller Early Career Health Services Research Award for her work "Identifying Provider-Level Barriers and Facilitators to the Diagnosis and Management of Peripheral Neuropathy."

photo of Dr. Melissa Elafros
Melissa Elafros, M.D., Ph.D.

 The prize is a competitive research award designed to provide seed funding for IHPI early career faculty members to catalyze new research that Drs. Lew Sandy and Sue Hassmiller established.

Andrea and Lawrence A. Wolfe Research Professor Melissa Elafros, M.D., Ph.D., shares how the impact of the honor reaches far beyond her work:

“The Sandy-Hassmiller Early Career Health Services Research Award is an incredible honor and a fantastic opportunity to advance the Flint Neuropathy Study

"As part of my ongoing work in Flint, we are working to identify why primary care patients are not getting diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, which can have quite debilitating symptoms.

"Sometimes, it seems like the planets must align for someone to get this diagnosis – the patient has to have the “right symptoms” for the doctor to key into, the doctor has to know what tests, if any, should be sent and be willing to send them, and then insurance has to cover those tests or next steps. Talk about frustrating and potentially expensive!

"Our long-term goal in Flint is to identify what makes it harder for doctors to diagnose neuropathy and then develop interventions to target these obstacles so more patients with neuropathy are diagnosed appropriately. This award will allow us to take the next step toward solving this problem and changing lives. We have already developed a survey to measure what primary care providers know about neuropathy, their role in diagnosing it, and what makes it challenging to do so during routine clinical care. However, without appropriately validating this survey, we won’t know if we are looking in the right direction to solve this problem. We then risk developing an intervention that is ineffective or even harms patients.

"The Early Career Health Services Research Award will allow us to validate our survey instrument, the Neuropathy Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Survey, and ensure we target the proper barriers to neuropathy care in Flint. 

"I am very grateful to IHPI and Drs. Sandy and Hassmiller for their support and the validation that my health services goals are worth pursuing.”

Cathryn Lapedis, M.D., M.P.H.,  was also honored with the award for "Comparative Effectiveness of Patient-Centered Prostate Cancer Report Versus Standard Pathology Reports, in a Diverse Web Sample of Older Adults with Prostates."