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VA Health Systems Research

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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
843-789-7174 x 207174
Neal Axon, MD


About the COIN

The Center’s mission is to develop and implement healthcare interventions to improve the equity and accessibility of healthcare for minority and rural veteran populations.

Research Focus Areas

HEROIC’s mission to ensure health equity and access to care is supported by research in many fields, including mental health solutions, racial/ethnic disparities, gender inequalities, rural access to care, telehealth, preventative treatment, and healthcare costs. The Center develops, tests, and implements innovations to bring fair, quality care to all veterans, especially for those without ready access.

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 aligning 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). Impact goals for RIVRS may include improving VA policy, modifying clinical guidelines, implementing operational processes across VISNs, scaling effective intervention to additional VA sites, advancing health services research methods, or any other impacts that further Veteran health and satisfaction.

Current RIVR project

Telehealth Research Collaborative

Principal Investigator: Anouk Grubaugh, PhD

The goal of the Telehealth Research Collaborative is to expand remote health services options throughout VAMCs nationwide so veterans can receive quality care from the comfort of home and other private locations. Clinical Video Telehealth (CVT) will grow by improving methods/tools for CVT data capture; testing and refining these tools at the local, regional, and national level; and disseminating them to VHA by the end of the 5-year funding period.

Research Projects & Collaborators

HEROIC’s researchers are supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, private foundations, and other agencies. The Center is currently enrolling Veterans for studies investigating health services for PTSD, diabetes, dementia, homelessness, and organ transplants, as well as patients at risk for liver disease and lung disease.


HEROIC’s experienced body of investigators brings a variety of multidisciplinary skills to VA, including (1) chronic disease management (such as diabetes, hypertension, severe mental illnesses); (2) treatment for medical-psychiatric comorbidities; (3) novel intervention development for specific medical and psychiatric conditions (most notably diabetes, stroke, posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression); (4) developing technology (like telehealth applications) to promote accessible healthcare; and (5) creating programs that reduce disparities across the full continuum of care.

Partner Offices

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

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