Leadership of Greenville Health System (now Prisma Health) and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville began preliminary discussions in 2014-15 to plan a strategy for inclusion of patients and community members in research.
Their goal stemmed in part from a national emphasis on patient involvement led by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). Funding from the Health Sciences Center supported the Patient Engagement Studio (PES), and Peggy Wagner was named founding studio director.
Patient recruitment began in early 2016, and the first studio session was held in February of that year. The session involved the discussion of a project investigating patient perspectives and biological changes from an acupuncture intervention in cancer care. Since that time, the studio has reviewed projects of all types, including basic science, public health studies and clinical innovations.
PES received a PCORI grant in 2017-18, which led to the creation of two new Patient Panels focused on patients with diabetes. PES, with Wagner, Ann Blair Kennedy and a group of four patients, were featured as Exemplars in Research at the International Conference on Patient- and Family-Centered Care: Promoting Health Equity and Reducing Disparities. The Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care also highlighted PES in its Strengthening Diversity in Research Partnerships project. Specifically, PES is featured in spotlight videos for this project.
From 2016-18, two additional Patient Panels were created. The first one focuses on rheumatoid arthritis and is led by Melanie Cozad from the Arnold School of Public Health. The second panel recruited patients with breast cancer to support the dissertation project of Julie Summey from the Department of Public Health Sciences at Clemson University.
In 2018, Wagner retired and passed the position of director to Kennedy, a faculty member at the School of Medicine Greenville.
The year 2020 brought significant changes to the studio. PES moved from the Health Sciences Center to the University of South Carolina. This led to a new structure and advancement of the studio. PES also received a PCORI Eugene Washington Engagement Award for the Virtual Patient Engagement Studio, a project that uses technology to engage hard-to-reach patients. Kennedy and Nabil Natafgi from the Arnold School of Public Health led this project, which recruited patients from South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia to engage with researchers and review projects without having to travel to meet with research teams in person.