The Regenstrief Institute, an internationally respected leader in health services, informatics and aging research, recently hosted the 2016 Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development national field-based meeting on informatics research. Sixty-two invited participants from across the United States gathered Sept. 29-30 at the institute’s new headquarters to shape the next decade of cutting-edge informatics research within VA.

The dual goals of the meeting were the identification of the six most important research questions or topics for VA informatics from 2017 to 2026, and enumeration of the steps required to pursue them — in effect, the creation of an informatics research roadmap.

The meeting promoted collaboration and synergy among informatics research groups at various VA locations, as well as pinpointing the most effective ways for VA informatics researchers to interact with VA informatics operations personnel and offices. Dissemination and implementation of the research roadmap were also highlighted.

VA Deputy Undersecretary for Health for Policy and Services Service Jennifer Lee, MD, delivered a keynote address on VA health care policy, priorities, and needs.  In addition to interactive sessions, conference speakers included interim Regenstrief Institute President and CEO Christopher Callahan, MD; Regenstrief Center for Health Services Research director Michael Weiner, MD, MPH; Regenstrief Institute Center for Biomedical Informatics director Shaun Grannis, MD, and Regenstrief Institute clinician-informaticians Douglas Martin, MD, and Paul Biondich, MD, MS.

“Scientists must work more closely with executives and operations-based leaders in health information systems and technology, to optimize value, efficiency, quality, and safety of care,” said Dr. Weiner. “This conference provided an opportunity to examine where we are and where we need to go with VA informatics research. As a result, we have a greater understanding of what knowledge scientists should generate to accelerate our success in informatics.”

The meeting, with its VA-driven agenda, was collaboratively coordinated by three physicians — Dr. Weiner, who holds appointments with the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center, the Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine; Michael A. Rubin, MD, PhD, MS, of the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System and University of Utah; and Michael E. Matheny, MD, MS, MPH, of the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System and Vanderbilt University.

The ultimate goal of the meeting and its development of a VA informatics research roadmap is improved health care and outcomes through effective design, development, and implementation of information technology in the delivery of care.

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