The AcademyHealth Listening Project

Improving the Evidence Base for Medicare Policymaking

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The results from the AcademyHealth Listening Project's inaugural report underscore that the health policy community can be a rich source of information for health services researchers.

In 2013, AcademyHealth’s Translation and Dissemination Institute launched its first major activity, a “Listening Project” aimed at identifying the most pressing health services research needs of leaders in health policy and health care delivery for the  coming three to five years. Its goal is to foster greater interaction among the producers, users, and funders of health services research to spur the development and use of more relevant and timely evidence. As such, it supports AcademyHealth’s vision to improve health and health care by generating new knowledge and moving that knowledge into policy and practice.

The Listening Project draws on two separate audiences annually, the first round of interviews focusing on policy-makers and the analysts who advise them, and the second on health care delivery system leaders. The Translation and Dissemination Institute’s Advisory Committee reviews and recommends topics for each round of interviews.

During the summer of 2013, AcademyHealth staff conducted telephone and in-person interviews with 24 government agency analysts, non-governmental experts, and other health care policy-makers regarding knowledge gaps and research needs related to Medicare. Staff used qualitative data analysis techniques to identify and synthesize major themes, which were validated by an external review committee comprised of interviewees and content experts.

The final analysis organized respondent needs and feedback along five major themes: (1) research needs, (2) data gaps, (3) research process improvements, (4) political context, and (5) improved dissemination.