"Meeting the Changing Needs of Veterans: The Quality/Cost Equation" was the theme of VA's Health Services Research & Development Service (HSR&D) National Meeting. During the course of HSR&D's 22nd national meeting that was held from March 9-11, 2004 in Washington, D.C., nearly 600 researchers, clinicians, and policy makers participated in an array of activities including plenary paper sessions, exhibits, workshops, and a poster session - all focusing on meeting the changing health care needs of veterans while providing high quality, cost-effective care.
Hosted by HSR&D's Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economics Research (Bedford, MA), the conference addressed a broad spectrum of health care issues including: implementing research findings into practice, health care disparities, driving quality improvement with patient-centered data, mental health care coordination, comprehensive care for women veterans, and improving doctor-patient communication. Researchers also addressed a wide array of diseases/conditions affecting veterans, such as chronic pain, colorectal cancer, diabetes, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, problem drinking, risk of suicide, and stroke.
Meeting Highlights Jonathan Perlin, MD, PhD, VA's Deputy Under Secretary for Health, and Acting Chief Research and Development Officer, addressed participants about the remarkable improvements in quality of care within the VA health care system, such as "improved diabetes control from 51% to 94%, screening for cervical cancer from 62% to 93%, and use of B blockers for myocardial infarction at discharge from hospital from 70% to 95%."
VA's Under Secretary for Health Robert Roswell, MD, addressed the meeting and presented the 2004 Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research. Carol M. Ashton, MD, MPH, Director of HSR&D's Houston Center for Quality of Care and Utilization Studies, was this year's recipient for her leadership and dedication to improving veteran health care by developing and implementing measures and procedures that improve quality, while addressing patients' needs and preferences.
Lisa Iezzoni, MD, MSc, with Harvard Medical School and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, gave the keynote address on "Assessing Quality of Care for Persons with Disabilities." This is a topic of great importance, especially for veterans who return from war with substantial, long-term impairments. Dr. Iezzoni stressed the importance of health services research on issues surrounding disability, such as helping to assess functional status, identifying patient-centered outcomes, evaluating quality of care, and determining disparities in health care services.
This year's meeting also included a tribute to John G. Demakis, MD, who will retire as Director of VA's Health Services Research this spring. Under Secretary Roswell presented Dr. Demakis with the Under Secretary's Exemplary Service Award - the highest honor his office bestows.