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Surgical Outcomes Club
July 3, 2019

From Policy to Patient Care—The Cycle of Health Policy Research

Author Affiliations
  • 1Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness, and Safety, Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, Houston, Texas
  • 2Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas
  • 3Department of Surgery, Division of Endocrine and Oncologic Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 4Center for Surgery and Health Economics, Department of Surgery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Surg. 2019;154(9):793-794. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2019.1518

With the US health care system currently undergoing substantial changes, there is an urgent need for rigorous and timely evaluation of health policy. The surgical community has a vested interest in performing health policy research to inform ongoing and subsequent policy reform. However, the obscure and haphazard journey from the identification of a societal need to the evaluation, adoption, and/or revision of policy can be a barrier to meaningful reform. To demystify this process, the Surgical Outcomes Club hosted an expert health policy panel at the 2018 annual meeting. The panel outlined 2 distinct pathways for the conduct of health policy research (Figure): (1) translating patient care strategies into policy (ie, evidence-based policy changes to improve the patient experience) and (2) evaluating the effects of existing or new policy on patient care (ie, evaluations of what is and is not effective policy). Citing examples of both approaches, this Viewpoint will highlight health policy research conducted by surgeons, provide strategies to overcome barriers, and share information from inside Capitol Hill to facilitate research efforts.

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