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Director of HSR&D Discusses Skills Needed by Future HSR&D Researchers

December 7, 2018

A recently published article in Health Services Research (Atkins, 2018) describes the skills health services researchers will need to remain “relevant” as the field of health services research (HSR) progresses. Researchers will need to be more flexible, nimble, entrepreneurial, collaborative, and innovative. David Atkins, MD, MPH, Director of VA HSR&D, offers several additional observations on the new skills researchers will need:

  • Given a growing amount of important health services research funded outside of traditional Federal research funders (clinical partners contributed an estimated $47 million to analyses done by VA HSR centers), researchers will need to traverse the different worlds of research, quality improvement, and program evaluation.
  • Researchers must be trained in how to partner with and communicate to clinical stakeholders, policymakers, and the “C suite” (senior leadership) of health organizations.
  • Health services researchers will need to be comfortable in the distinct worlds of “big data” and “deep data,” combining quantitative and qualitative analysis.  
  • Researchers designing clinical interventions need to understand implementation in healthcare and consider implementation early in the design.

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