Charles D Phillips
Correspondence: Charles D Phillips firstname.lastname@example.org
BMC Health Services Research 2006, 6:117 doi:10.1186/1472-6963-6-117
W. David Helms
(2006-10-05 13:23) AcademyHealth
Charles Phillips commentary “What do you do for a living? Toward a more succinct
definition of health services research” raised a number of thought provoking
points about our identity as a field and the ongoing struggle to communicate the value
of what we do.
The existing definitions of our field, particularly the AcademyHealth definition presented
by Lohr and Steinwachs and cited in the commentary, sought to define the boundaries
of the health services research field, a function that Phillips recognizes as important.
Reasonable people will disagree – and in fact do disagree – on exactly
where those boundaries should be drawn, but the Lohr and Steinwachs definition has
established a baseline from which to draw.
Perhaps equally important, how OTHERS define and value the work we do varies greatly,
and as a result, we need to have different value-based messages for different audiences.
Or said another way, the value of our research depends on who you are and where you
sit in the health system. From that perspective, we agree with Phillips overarching
idea that it is helpful to provide shorter and simpler messages that include the end
goal of the research, i.e., to improve access to high quality health care. Yet these
“elevator speeches” are contextual explanations tailored to the audience
with whom you are communicating. The economist studying the impact of payment system
changes on the quality of care in non-profit hospitals will have a very different
elevator speech than the practitioner evaluating the impact of coverage limits on
treatment outcomes for behavioral health…and yet each is clearly conducting
health services research.
AcademyHealth, together with the Coalition for Health Services Research, continues
to develop strategies and products to communicate the value of health services research
to key constituencies. These include our HSR Impact Series—case studies of research
that has made a positive impact on health policy and/or practice—and a new initiative
to develop a more compelling business case for the field of health services research.
The business case will go beyond describing what health services research is, providing
a vision that will outline how health services research will transform the health
care system in the 21st Century and provide the budget justification for continued
(and increased) investment in the field
We thank Dr. Phillips for raising these important questions and for stepping forward
to offer his perspective. We also welcome other thoughts and suggestions for how to
better communicate the value of this field’s important research.
Dr. Helms is President and CEO of AcademyHealth,the professional society for the fields
of health services research and health policy. AcademyHealth programs are dedicated
to stimulating the development, understanding, and use of the best available health
services research and health policy information by public and private decision makers.
BioMed Central Ltd unless otherwise stated. Part of Springer Science+Business Media.