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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

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Introduction to Health Services Research : A Self-Study Course

Module 2: Brief History of Health Services Research (Page 34 of 40)

Answering Today's Questions: The Important Role of Health Services Research

Health Services Research Answers Questions

The varied political and economic interests look to health services research to answer different questions.

  • Is Health Plan A providing cost effective services for my dollars?
  • Are patients receiving the standard of care for immunization or for cardiovascular disease?
  • How does Dr. Y perform compared to Dr. Z?

Health services research has the potential to document or conceal the problems and successes in the health care arena.

Therefore, health services research has the potential to document or conceal the problems and successes in the health care arena. These research findings can influence public policy and have an impact on the health of millions of people.

Source: "At the Millennium, Challenges and Opportunities for Federal Policymakers" (excerpts from Mohammad N. Akhter, MD, MPH, executive director of APHA, Bi-Weekly Report to the APHA Executive Board, January 14, 2000)

Health Services Research: Some Issues

Through their work, health services researchers will examine financing arrangements, organizational structures and processes, health technologies and social factors to provide evidence of how these affect the quality, cost and availability of, and access to, health care. They will continue to provide important new evidence to inform policy and practice that will significantly improve the quality of health care in the United States.

The next few pages will discuss some of these important issues.

View Key Projects and Milestones in Health Services Research.

Discussion Questions

  1. How is health services research translated into policy? How do you know that this translation is occurring? Describe the resources you would use to keep up with the changes in policy derived from health services research.
  2. Why is it important for physicians to know whether one treatment method or clinical practice is superior to another? Should society be concerned? Should policy makers also be concerned?
  3. Is health services research mostly understandable to policy makers? To the public? To you?
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