Researchers Crossing Boundaries Make a Greater Impact on Health Care
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Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation

[pullquote align=”right”]“The institute gives us an opportunity to work across the boundaries that typically constrain people working within a university environment” -Dr. John Z. Ayanian, Director[/pullquote]

As the calendar flipped to 2013, orange moving crates made a maze of the third floor of Building 16 in the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC). By the end of the month, the Veterans Affairs Center for Clinical Management Research (CCMR) had set up shop as one of the final anchor groups to relocate to NCRC, and the possibilities imagined when the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI) was established in mid-2011 began to take shape for new neighbors.

With more than 100 faculty and staff as part of their research efforts, the benefits of proximity to their colleagues in IHPI were clear from Day 1.

“We’ve always worked closely with U-M, but this move will accelerate the pace of research, for the benefit of veterans and patients, everyone,” says Eve A. Kerr, MD, MPH, CCMR director and a professor of internal medicine. “From improving treatment of chronic conditions to preventing suicides and enhancing hospital care, all of us are eager to make an impact on care through our research.”

Just over a year after IHPI’s inception, leadership hosted an official kick-off event November 1, 2012. The festivities included a speed “meet-and-greet” to introduce research teams and their work, a seminar series, self-guided tours and comments from new director John Z. Ayanian, MD, MPP, in a closing reception attended by Medical School Dean James O. Woolliscroft, MD, several hundred IHPI members and staff, and others from throughout the University.

“This is the first chapter of a book we will be writing together,” Dr. Ayanian said during the event, noting that he is not aware of another institution that has the same scope and university-wide commitment to health services research across a large number of schools as U-M. “This is an unmatched opportunity.”

The build-out of the IHPI presence at NCRC was close to complete in mid-February when the Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center (SMITREC), under the direction of Frederic C. Blow, PhD, moved to half of the second floor. Some final shuffles over the next few months filled the adjacent wing in Building 14, and suddenly a space that was empty a year ago was home to more than 600 faculty, staff and research colleagues intertwined in a vibrant center of innovation and interdisciplinary research.

IHPI occupies five floors in Building 16 and contiguous wings of Buildings 10 and 14. Among the other occupants are the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy (CHOP), the Dow Urology Research Group, the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative (MSQC), the Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR), the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, and researchers from Medical School departments of Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Emergency Medicine, Neurology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Radiation Oncology. Faculty from the schools of Nursing and Public Health, the Institute for Social Research, the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the Ford School use the touchdown and collaboration spaces to interact with their peers who call NCRC home. The physical moves are a source of excitement for the new director, who was recruited to U-M from Harvard University, and spent most of the fall and spring months splitting time between Boston and Ann Arbor. He began his full-time appointment in September 2013.

Prior to Dr. Ayanian’s appointment in November 2012, the IHPI Interim Leadership Team—Interim Director Rodney Hayward, MD, and fellow members Dr. Blow and Dr. Kerr; Darrell “Skip” Campbell, Jr., MD; Christopher R. Friese, PhD, RN; Richard A. Hirth, PhD; Laurence F. McMahon, Jr., MD, MPH; and Robert M. Merion, MD—directed the institute’s activities. Dr. Ayanian worked closely with the interim leadership team to begin to identify strategic priorities throughout the months during which he commuted to Ann Arbor. He is now stepping forward to formalize the governance structure, launch a robust array of member services, and share a bold vision for IHPI.

As the new academic year begins, Dr. Ayanian continues to mold his staff leadership team with the addition of Jenifer J. Martin, JD, as director of government relations (a shared appointment with a similar role in the School of Public Health), and Gail Campanella, MBA, as managing director for the institute.

In a wonderful case of symmetry, IHPI holds its second annual member forum on November 1, 2013. This event will offer the institute’s leadership an opportunity to chart a course for the impact the institute and its committed researchers will have as changes in health care practice and policy accelerate nationwide.

“The 400-plus members of the institute are individually each part of a home department, school, or research group. What we are trying to cultivate at this new institute is people working across boundaries, thinking about research in new ways and collaborating with new partners,” Dr. Ayanian says. “The institute gives us an opportunity to spell out a transformative vision for IHPI, the success of which will require participation from members across the university as well as from the partner organizations.”

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