Health Services Research & Development

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HSR&D 2006 National Meeting

2006 HSR&D Meeting Logo"Implementing Equity: Making Research Work for Diverse Veteran Populations" was the theme of the 24th VA Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) National Meeting that was held from February 16-17, 2006 in Arlington, VA. During the meeting, approximately 550 researchers, clinicians, and policy makers participated in 185 plenary sessions, exhibits, workshops, and poster sessions. This national forum provided unique opportunities for discussion, collaboration, and the development of strategies that will improve the care of our diverse veteran population.

Hosted by HSR&D's Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia), the conference highlighted a myriad of issues vital to improving health care equity such as: disparities in medical procedures (i.e., coronary interventions), telemedicine-based collaborative care to reduce rural disparities, and racial differences in attitudes toward innovative medical technology. Researchers also addressed chronic diseases and health care issues that affect many veterans including, prostate cancer, HIV, hypertension, vocational rehabilitation, women's health, and health concerns for the elderly.

Meeting Highlights

The keynote address of the meeting was given by internationally recognized health policy expert, Dr. Uwe Reinhardt and his son, Captain (USMC) Mark Cheng Reinhardt, who recently returned from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Reinhardt and Captain Reinhardt spoke on the "Opportunities and Challenges for VA Health Care: Perspectives from a Health Economist and a Combat Veteran."

Captain Reinhardt discussed his service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how he was wounded when his Humvee was hit with an IED (improvised explosive device). He praised the care he received - from the initial field trauma team that stabilized him enough to be transferred to an in-country hospital, where he was stabilized enough for the 10 hour flight to a hospital in Germany, and then finally home. Captain Reinhardt discussed the difficulty military men and women face when making the transition from soldiers to civilians, especially wounded civilians, and stressed the importance of making the transition from DoD (Department of Defense) healthcare to VA healthcare as seamless as possible. Dr. Reinhardt, Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University, spoke to the economic efficiency of the VA healthcare system and emphasized the "moral imperative" of sharing VA's vast experience in providing better health care for less money with the private sector.

Other meeting highlights included a talk given by Joel Kupersmith, MD, Chief Research and Development Officer, who spoke about VA's long-term vision, including a strong commitment to providing optimal care for veterans with polytraumatic injuries (i.e., brain injury, burns, spinal cord injury), as well as genomic medicine and the importance of linking genetic information to VA's electronic medical record system. Shirley Meehan, PhD, MBA, Acting Director of HSR&D, spoke about HSR&D funding priorities and major accomplishments from the past year. In addition, a panel of VA Central Office Operations Chiefs addressed opportunities for collaborations between health care operations and research to improve quality and outcomes.

Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in HSR

Mr. Arthur Hamerschlag, VHA's Chief of Staff, presented the 2006 Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research to Eugene Oddone, MD. This award recognizes a VA researcher whose work has led to major improvements in the quality of veterans' health care, has made key contributions to the future of HSR&D through excellence in training and mentorship, and has enhanced the visibility and reputation of VA research through national leadership. Dr. Oddone, Director of HSR&D's Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care in Durham, NC, has focused his research in three main areas: examining racial disparities in health care, evaluating the effectiveness and delivery of primary care, and improving the quality of care for veterans with chronic illnesses.

Next year's HSR&D national meeting will be on "Improving the Quality of Care and Outcomes for Veterans with Disabilities throughout the Continuum of Care."