For over 30 years, AcademyHealth's Annual Research Meeting (ARM) has been the premier forum for health services research, where attendees gather to discuss the health policy and health system implications of research findings, sharpen research methods, and network with colleagues from around the world. This year’s meeting in Boston was the largest one yet with more than 2,900 attendees and included 150 sessions with more than 700 speakers and nearly 1,500 posters.

In this post-ARM series, blog posts will summarize key takeaways from sessions on four hot topics:

  1. Data and methods: Dealing with increased volume, variety and velocity of data
  2. The Affordable Care Act: Evaluating the latest in health care reform
  3. Translation and dissemination: Moving evidence into action
  4. Race, ethnicity and health

This is the third post:

Health services research produces evidence that can have a transformative effect on healthcare quality and value, but the real promise of this information is in what happens after the research project ends. Moving knowledge into policy and practice is a key component of AcademyHealth’s mission, and can be seen in the regular presence of dissemination and implementation (D&I) science as a track at the Annual Research Meeting, in the conduct of AcademyHealth programs and projects, and in the formation and programing around our Translation and Dissemination Institute.

In fact, D&I research was woven throughout the 2016 Annual Research Meeting (ARM) in Boston, with sessions touching upon new methods in moving evidence to action as well as how individuals in health care and beyond are working to tackle obstacles to effective dissemination. Below is a sampling of the D&I-related sessions hosted at ARM.

Entrepreneurship in Bridging Evidence, Policy and Practice: A Conversation

As moderator Michael Gluck began, entrepreneurs tend to share characteristics: they have an idea for something new; embrace the idea of “disruption;” are willing to take risks, acting even when the outcome isn’t assured; and are flexible, able to operate in an environment of ambiguity.

This discussion-formatted session featured four individuals who have been successful at bridging the gap between evidence and policy. Each of the panelists was motivated by a frustration with the status quo and a desire to disrupt it:

  • Robin Strongin (Disruptive Women) wanted to innovate across the decision chain and demonstrate how social media, namely a blog of diverse women working across law, bench science, and health care, could be used to leverage information and exchange ideas about the health care information being released.
  • Karen Wolk Feinstein (Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative) was frustrated working in a health care environment with no grounding in safety science and engineering and used the Turner “Knowledge Network” model as inspiration for new organizational alignment, staff education, and unity.
  • Gregg Gonsalves (Treatment Action Group) triggered a social movement of “normal people” who took on federal agencies after becoming fed up with the incredibly slow drug approval process, but then identified a gap of information in the drug market and made it the group’s mission to expand and accelerate research and community engagement; and
  • Ran Balicer (Clalit Research Institute) overcame an organizational mindset against research to create an evidence-based and evidence-oriented practice to enhance efficiency, provide clinicians with a better understanding of their workloads, and ensure alignment with the organization’s priorities.

The conversation was robust and captivating, with panelists urging attendees to break down walls, let people in from the outside, be interdisciplinary, first tackle the “critical points,” and, let passion be their guide.

Direct Observation Methods for Dissemination and Implementation Research

This engaging, didactic workshop, hosted by the Innovation Station, featured three researchers who provided an introduction into direct observation, a quantitative and qualitative method used in health services research and implementation science that can provide researchers with direct insight into the environment being studied. Direct observation involves continuously or instantaneously watching a given environment for better understanding of processes. It can capture routinized, unconscious behaviors, provide (work/life) context of the staff or clinic, document a process, behavior or interaction, illustrate what’s happening in a program or complement quantitative data.

Using a clip of documentary “The Waiting Room” as a simulation of real life, Megan McCullough, Bo Kim, and Gemmae Fix allowed participants the opportunity to experience direct observation for themselves. Teams then huddled together to examine the footage from different lenses and highlight what was important as well as to identify the research questions that could be answered from the footage.

To continue the conversation about D&I Science, join us at the 9th Annual Conference on Dissemination and Implementation in Health, December 14-15, 2016.


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