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 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: