Renee
Pekmezaris, PhD

Investigator,
The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Vice President,
Community Health and Health Services Research

Associate Professor,
Department of Population Health, Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell

Phone:

(516) 465-3161

Email:

About the researcher:

Member of Feinstein Institute for Medical Research

Renee Pekmezaris acquired her PhD from Hofstra University in 1987 in Psychology, where she specialized in Applied Research and Program Evaluation. For the first ten years of her career, she served the Long Island, New York community as Research Director, and was later appointed as Executive Director of the Nassau-Suffolk Health Systems Agency, the state-designated health planning and regulatory agency for Long Island.

Dr. Pekmezaris joined the Northwell Health as Vice President for Community Health and Health Services Research in 1998. She is responsible for conducting studies to improve the quality of life for patients, in a wide variety of clinical and health services research investigations, including community-based participatory research. She has authored over 30 peer review publications has served as a reviewer for PharmoEconomics, Medical Education, Journal for Healthcare Quality and Health Services Research.

Part of her work involves collaborative projects with investigators in other departments throughout the health system, to whom her team provides scientific consultation. Dr. Pekmezaris previously served as Research Fellow of the Institute for Medical Effectiveness Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM), and is an Associate Professor of Population Health at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine (HSOM). She currently chairs the Social Context Curriculum Development Committee and serves on several curriculum development committees at the HSOM. She also co-chaired the Master of Public Health Advisory Committee at Hofstra University.

Research focus:

With a focus on the growing population of seniors in the metropolitan area, Dr. Pekmezaris has experience carrying out community-based research investigations with seniors, including: a randomized telehealth trial for patients living with congestive heart failure in the community, a case-matched control telehealth trial for community-dwelling patients living with congestive heart failure, a randomized trial in anemia of chronic disease, and a study to predict site of death in end of life patients.

She is presently the principal investigator of a number of applied technology grants as well as a Verizon-supported long term telehealth study of the effects of remote patient management on hospitalization associated costs and quality of life.

What kind of chronic illness does your team study?

Our team looks for solutions to improve  the quality of life for patients living with chronic illness. We are actively studying the management of patients at home through telehealth technology. Our team has been focusing on patients with congestive heart failure (CHF).

CHF is the most frequent diagnosis in hospitalized patients over 65, and is a leading cause of disability and death. CHF is a progressive, chronic disease characterized by a variety of cardiovascular problems leading to cardiac dysfunction and eventually to typical CHF symptoms such as dyspnea, fatigue, and congestion.

CHF is characterized by recurrent periods of clinical exacerbation that often lead to recurring physician office visits, high rates of emergency room (ER) and inpatient hospital utilization. Unfortunately, most community-dwelling patients living with heart failure receive exacerbation-focused care without a comprehensive chronic management program. At present, neither patients nor their caregivers have the knowledge and the skills to participate in managing this disease. Usual care results in repetitive, inefficient and costly cycles of hospitalization, rehabilitation and home care after exacerbation followed by no monitoring, with the exception of the occasional physician office visit. This lack of management leads to poor health outcomes, including decreased quality of life, decreased functional status and increased health care costs.

How is telehealth technology used to manage patients living with heart failure at home?

The use of telehealth is a innovative approach to optimizing outcomes in the treatment of CHF for patients living in the community. As exacerbations of CHF are common in the disease progression, the use of telehealth to monitor physiologic indicators, such as weight, heart rate, lung sounds, and blood pressure enables improved management through timely treatment adjustments. Without leaving their homes, patients can upload vital signs and be monitored by clinicians through telehealth visits using voice and video equipment combined with peripheral medical technology. Telehealth self-management (TSM) can provide the patient with self-management tools to facilitate follow-up care. Interactive health information technology not only provides health tools and health information that is patient-centered but also engages consumers and promotes their active participation in improving their health. This is crucial in providing patient-centered care.

Telehealth is one form of interactive technology that potentially offers significant cost savings in its ability to allow practitioners to monitor, evaluate and educate patients from remote locations. The reductions in hospitalization that have been seen through the use of TSM also serve to improve and enhance patients’ quality of life (QoL), as patients are able to stay in their own homes and stay connected to their support systems. Previous research has demonstrated an improvement in QoL reported by CHF patients receiving nurse-led telehealth disease management programs. Further, there is increasing evidence that the hospitalization of older adults is associated with complications such as delirium, pressure ulcers, adverse medication reactions, and falls, which often hasten functional disability and diminished QoL

Last year, Dr. Pekmezaris and her team published a series of studies that showed that telehealth visits were as effective as life nursing visits in delivering home care. At present, they are studying the application of this technology in managing patients who are living independently at home with CHF, with support from the Verizon and Fan Fox Leslie R. Samuels Foundations.

Education

Long Island University, CW Post College, Brookville, NY

Degree: BS
1982
Field of study: Psychology

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Degree: MS
1983
Field of study: Applied Research Psychology

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Degree: PhD
1987
Field of study: Applied Research Psychology

Lab members

Paola DiMarzio, PhD

Senior research analyst working in the Division of Community Health and Health Services Research of the Department of Population Health.
Email: [email protected]

Oonagh Dowling, PhD

Senior research analyst, working in the Division of Community Health and Health Services Research of the Department of Population Health
Email: [email protected]

Andrzej Kozikowski, PhD

Research analyst working in the Division of Community Health and Health Services Research of the Department of Population Health
Email: [email protected]

Chris Nouryan, MA

Senior analyst, working for the health system since 2006 in the Division of Community Health and Health Services Research of the Department of Population Health
Email: [email protected]

Jill Cotroneo, BA

Administrative support associate working in the Division of Community Health and Health Services Research of the Department of Population Health
Email: [email protected]

Honors and awards

1983

Fred Valgerakis Award, Hellenic University Research Grant

1996

Woman of the Year Award, Long Island Heart Council

1997

Executive of the Year Award, United Way of Long Island

2005-2007

Fellow, Institute for Medical Effectiveness Research, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

2016

Advancing Women in Science and Medicine Americana Manhasset Innovation Award

Publications

View publications on PubMed

  1. Pekmezaris, R., Breuer, L., Zaballero, A., Wolf-Klein, G., Jadoon, E., D’Olimpio, J., Guzik, H., Foley, C., Weiner, J., Chan, S.: “Predictors of Site of Death of End-of-Life Patients: The Importance of Specificity in Advance Directives.” Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2004 Feb; 7(1):9-17. PMID: 15000779.
  2. Wallace, M.P., Weiner, J., Pekmezaris, R., Almendral, A., Cosiquien, R., Auerbach, C., Wolf-Klein, G.P.: “Physician Cultural Sensitivity in African American Advance Care Planning: A Pilot Study.” Journal of Palliative Medicine, 2007 Jun; 10(3):721-7. PMID: 17592984.
  3. Pekmezaris R, Cooper L, Efferen L, Mastroangelo A, Silver A, Eichorn A, Walia R, Mir T, Liberman T, Weiner J, Steinberg H. “Transforming the Mortality Review Conference to Assess Palliative Care in the Acute Care Setting: A Feasibility Study.” Palliative and Supportive Care. 2010 Dec;8(4):421-6. PMID: 20875205.
  4. Pekmezaris R, Walia R, Nouryan C, Katinas L, Zeitoun N, Alano G, Guzik H, Lester P, Wolf-Klein G, Steinberg H.: “The Impact of an End of life Communication Skills Intervention on Physicians-in-Training.” Gerontology & Geriatrics Education 2011;32(2):152-63. PMID: 21598148.
  5. Lustbader D, Frankenthaler M, Smith F, Hussain E, Pekmezaris R, Walia R, Napolitano B, Lesser ML. “Palliative Medicine Consultation Impacts DNR Designation and Length of Stay for Terminal Medical ICU Patients.” Palliative and Supportive Care 2011 Dec; 9: 401-406. PMID: 22104416.
  6. Digwood G, Lustbader D, Pekmezaris R, Lesser ML, Walia R, Frankenthaler M, Hussain E. “The Impact of a Palliative Care Unit on Mortality Rate and Length of Stay for Medical Intensive Care Unit Patients.” Palliative and Supportive Care 2011 Dec;9: 387-392. PMID: 22104414.
  7. Wagner B, Meirowitz N, Shah J, Nanda D, Reggio L, Cohen P, Britt K, Kaufman L, Walia R, Bacote C, Lesser ML, Pekmezaris R, Fleischer A, Abrams KJ. “Comprehensive Perinatal Safety Initiative to Reduce Adverse Obstetric Events.” Journal for Healthcare Quality. Feb 2012; 34(1):6-15. PMID: 22060764.
  8. Pekmezaris R, Nouryan C, Pecinka K, Swiderski J, Mitzner I, Lesser M, Siegel M, Moise G, Younker R, and Smolich K. “The Impact of Remote Patient Monitoring (Telehealth) Upon Medicare Beneficiaries with Heart Failure.” Telemedicine and e-Health. 2012; 18 (2): 101-108. PMID: 22283360.
  9. Pekmezaris R, Kozikowski A, Moise G, Clement PA, Hirsch J, Kraut J, Levy L. “Aging in Suburbia: An Assessment of Senior Needs.” Educational Gerontology 39: 1–11, 2013.
  10. Sinvani LD, Beizer J, Akerman M, Pekmezaris R, Nouryan CN, Lutsky L, Cal C, Dlugacz Y, Masick K, Wolf-Klein G. “Medication Reconciliation in Continuum of Care Transitions: A Moving Target.” Journal of the American Medical Directors Association. 2013 Apr 19. doi:pii: S1525-8610(13)00112-6. PMID: 23608529