It’s an often cited, often lamented gap: the 14-year (or more) average lag between the time health research discoveries are made and when their benefits are actually realized within clinical care. IHPI was built to recognize and seize opportunities to help accelerate that path from the generation of knowledge to its implementation into healthcare policy and practice.
We do this by focusing research on questions whose answers have immediate relevance for the cost, equity, quality, and value of healthcare delivery, and by disseminating findings as actionable information to be used by policymakers, healthcare providers, and patients alike to make decisions both big and small, personal and pervasive.
Our commitment to providing evidence required for critical decision making about healthcare and health policy - whether in an emergency room or a policymakers’ office - spurs us to move deftly when the need for timely information is urgent.
IHPI researchers and clinicians are playing a critical role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are building models to project virus spread and its impact on populations, creating data registries to better understand and address the pandemic, and developing clinical resources and guidelines for the frontlines of care.
We have teams of researchers developing tools to help individual patients and providers weigh evidence about risks and benefits when making decisions about screening and treatment, tools that require synthesizing complex and ever-evolving information to ensure they’re effective.
IHPI is leading the way with research that responds to key health challenges:
National Poll on Healthy Aging
Our National Poll on Healthy Aging (NPHA), launched in early 2017 with co-sponsorship by AARP, has evolved into a nimble instrument to gather and interpret time-sensitive data from a nationally representative sample of adults aged 50-80. The poll team has produced 36 reports, with widely cited findings used to inform critical policy and public interest questions on topics such as dental and health insurance coverage, sexual health, and prescription drug costs. The NPHA has uncovered important insights from older adults directly relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic, including willingness to receive COVID-19 vaccines, use of electronic health portals that have often been essential for making vaccination appointments, telehealth use, and feelings of loneliness and isolation before and during the pandemic. NPHA findings on older adults’ general “unpreparedness” for emergency situations, released just as Hurricane Dorian tore through the Bahamas and made its way up the southeastern U.S. coast in September 2019, helped promote readiness resources and drew widespread attention to the health impacts of weather and climate-related disasters on older adults. The NPHA team has made its survey data publicly available for anyone to download and use.
Collaborative Quality Initiatives
We have forged partnerships with Michigan’s expanding network of Collaborative Quality Initiatives (CQIs), sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which mobilize hospitals, ambulatory care settings, and specialty healthcare organizations across the state to collect, share and analyze data on patient care - findings that are used rapidly to design and implement changes to improve quality and safety and reduce costs. The CQIs, the majority of which are led by IHPI researchers, harness data to help providers and health systems evolve and respond to changing needs across surgical care, cancer care, hospital medicine, and more for the benefit of millions of patients.
Impacting the opioid epidemic
The Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network (Michigan OPEN) was launched in 2016 to respond to the mounting opioid epidemic in the state of Michigan. The network set out to address postoperative and acute care opioid prescribing, which at the time had little evidence to guide practice. Through research and partnerships with the CQIs, Michigan OPEN has successfully gathered data and implemented change on a statewide scale to transform surgical pain management and curb opioid misuse, by developing treatment and prescribing recommendations across acute settings (surgery, dentistry, emergency medicine, and trauma), and by preventing the diversion of unused and unwanted opioids into local communities through medication take-back events statewide.
Enhancing value in healthcare
Launched in 2017, the Michigan Program on Value Enhancement (MPrOVE) brings together experts from IHPI and across the U-M health system to identify, design, and rigorously and rapidly evaluate specific projects focused on improving quality and demonstrating the value of clinical services at Michigan Medicine. Their work has helped reduce costs, improve efficiency, and ensure higher value of services to patients, from reducing the rate of low-value lab testing by integrating decision-making tools within electronic health records, to “right-sizing” exams before eye surgery through a model that helped clinics work through their COVID-19 backlog of cases, reduce in-person visits, and conserve personal protective equipment, while maintaining quality and safety outcomes. In 2019, MPrOVE began its “Innovation to Implementation (i2i) Lab” as a workshop to develop value-enhancing research projects and quality pilot studies at U-M and bridge the gap between IHPI research and Michigan Medicine operational efforts.
Innovations in telehealth
MPrOVE’s “Research Innovation Challenge” led to the development of the Telehealth Research Incubator, which IHPI has supported since 2018. Similar to a startup accelerator in the business world, the Incubator and its dedicated network of U-M researchers rigorously evaluate federal/state telehealth policies and telehealth programs within U-M’s own health system to determine population-level impact on healthcare costs, quality, access and patient experience. With the explosion of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic, this effort has become even more essential to guide policymakers grappling with developing telehealth payment policy and regulations.