"Defining Optimal Care: Balancing Quality, Cost, and Patient Preferences" was the theme of the 27th VA Health Services Research and Development Service (HSR&D) National Meeting held February 11-13, 2009 in Baltimore, MD. This year's theme was chosen to reflect the challenges faced by VA leadership and HSR&D researchers when implementing and evaluating healthcare for Veterans. Hosted by HSR&D's Center for Clinical Management Research, the Meeting was attended by more than 660 policymakers, clinicians, and researchers. Eighty-two papers, 18 workshops, and 125 posters were presented on vital healthcare issues, such as: chronic illness, vulnerable populations, mental health, economic analysis, as well as long-term care, of particular importance for many wounded Veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Other meeting highlights included an address by VA's Under Secretary for Health Michael Kussman, MD, MS, MACP, who presented two of VHA's highest honors. H. Gilbert Welch, MD, MPH received the Under Secretary's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research. Part of the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont, Dr. Welch has made significant contributions in the areas of technology assessment, health policy, and understanding the benefits and harms of early diagnosis. Dr. Kussman presented the highest honor bestowed by the Office of the Under Secretary—VA's Exemplary Service Award—to Shirley Meehan, PhD, HSR&D Deputy Director. She has contributed in many ways to improving the health and healthcare of Veterans during her 38-year tenure with VA, and received a standing ovation from the room full of grateful colleagues for her years of dedication and service to HSR&D.
Dr. Joel Kupersmith, VA's Chief Research and Development Officer, and Dr. Seth Eisen, HSR&D Director, spoke about current research priorities. The keynote address was provided by Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, Director of Population Health and Health Disparities and Co-Director of the Center for Domestic and International Health Security at the RAND Corporation, who spoke about the rapidly changing healthcare environment. Dr. Lurie's thoughts on the topic were of particular interest given her recent role as a member of the Obama Transition Project's Agency Review Working Group, for which she assessed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.