Researcher and educator Richard Shelton, MD, has been named chief medical officer of Centerstone and CEO of the Centerstone Research Institute (CRI). Shelton says his dual appointment straddling research and clinical practice will allow him to address the science-to service-gap.
“I have spent my career focused on research, and unfortunately we discover things that don’t get widely distributed for 10 to 15 years,” he tells Behavioral Healthcare Executive. “We want to try to shorten that timeline.”
CRI aims to produce evidence and conduct pilot projects focused on changing care and improving outcomes, he says.
The fact that Nashville-based Centerstone is a large not-for-profit gives it the opportunity to develop standards for the field and deploy treatments at a reasonable cost, Shelton says. While there are treatment protocols available to behavioral health clinicians, most are not standardized or used industrywide.
For the future, Sheldon, who has been a part of more than 100 funded research studies from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other agencies, says he has a wary eye on the Trump administration’s proposed budget for the NIH.
“I hope that is just his first offer, because the budget as proposed would be disastrous for medical research in general and behavioral health research in particular,” he says.
Behavioral health research
Shelton’s past research has focused on the development of new treatments for depression and bipolar disorder. He served on the faculty of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and Vanderbilt University Medical Center for nearly three decades. In 2012, he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), where he leads the Mood Disorders Research Program. He will maintain his UAB appointment as he joins Centerstone.
His predecessor, Tom Doub, left CRI in August 2016, to become chief clinical officer and chief compliance officer for American Addiction Centers.
Shelton’s research collaboration with CRI dates back to 2001 involving a large depression treatment outcome study.
“CRI has a legitimate, strong research environment of its own,” he says, “and we see an opportunity to build the research relationships with universities.”
CRI will continue to work on the development of mobile health applications as well as better integration of mobile health technology with the electronic health record and data warehouse infrastructure of Centerstone as a larger organization.
“Ultimately, we want to be able to use that information to inform care and predict outcomes,” Shelton says.
CRI also has a “big data” effort under way. It has access to one of the largest data warehouses in the world in terms of behavioral healthcare.
“I am working closely with informatics experts to take that to the next level,” Shelton says, “which is about making care more convenient and more accurate, and developing decision support tools and predictive algorithms to be able to inform care. If we know a person is at higher risk of a suicide attempt, we want to intervene with that person before they get to that point.”