The Health Services Researcher of 2020

Health services research continues to play an important role in providing evidence for policy. Looking forward, however, the workforce needs of the field must be assessed to adequately prepare for the future.

In late 2007, a stakeholder meeting gathered fifty educators, students, funders and other stakeholders of health services research. The discussion centered on the current stock of health services researchers and analyzed trends in educational training for the field, focusing on three studies included in this special issue by Sandra McGinnis and Jean Moore, Thomas C. Ricketts, and Craig Thornton and Jonathan D. Brown. These studies provided the context for summit’s five sets of recommendations for the future of the field.

The meeting participants made the following recommendation to the health services research community:

  • Improve the size and composition of the field.
  • Understand the growth of HSR in the private sector.
  • Improve the graduate training of health services researchers, especially at the master’s level.
  • Expand postgraduate training and continuing education opportunities.
  • Increase awareness of the value of health services research.

The number of researchers in the field of health services research has more than doubled in the last decade. Yet, reductions of funding in the field and declines in investigator-initiated grants from public sources may inhibit the continued study of promising approaches for quality improvement in health care. Training opportunities, engagement of trained researchers, improvement of translational research and promotion of the field’s contributions will continue to grow the capacity of the field to meet future needs.