Transforming healthcare will take time, energy, and the knowledge to know what to do.
There is no doubt that we are taking our revolution to a new level in healthcare. We are challenging the status quo whether that be in education and training, clinical delivery, payment or patient involvement. We are in the know and we are active.
If there ever was any doubt to the level of commitment and engagement some of the community has around changing healthcare, just take a look around at what is being done. We have highlighted innovation many times on OH, but I want to point out a common theme often underlying many of these innovations is a recognition of what the community needs.
Last night during the Healthcare Communications & Social Media (#hcsm) chat, one topic addressed had to do with translating research, often found in the academic literature, and writing about it on blogs and other online platforms as a way to “translate” complicated studies into information the community can use. There was wide consensus that this made sense and needed to be done.
Why does this matter?
Well first, as Austin Frakt has written about, less than 1% of academic health research is written about in the media.
“We can do a better job making research accessible and relevant. Those aspects of the work should be rewarded. For, if you aren’t doing those things, how much is the research really worth? A necessary, but not sufficient, condition for a journal article to matter is that someone has to understand its import. The first thing that anyone should notice about journal articles is that they reveal that import reluctantly. Translation is key. As a community, we aren’t doing enough of it.”
I could not underscore this issue more.
Today, I am at the Academy Health Research Meeting. For those not familiar with this meeting, it is a gathering of health services researchers who discuss healthcare policy. No doubt there will be many exciting presentations on cutting edge research, but how many of these presentations can be easily used and digested by the community? Will this research be accessible?
While not solely to blame, the inaccessibility of research has led to a lag of translating research into practice or policy. As the slide below indicates, it can take quite a bit of time, 17 years as some suggest, to translate research into practice. For those interested in reading more on the topic, Dr. Lawrence Green has written on the topic here.
However, there are groups that are trying to speed this process up. Consider the PACT Council at the University of Colorado. PACT, or Partnership of Academicians and Communities for Translation, works together to enhance the health of people across Colorado. They pursue this objective by “improving the translation of research results into practice applications and by helping researchers better understand the realities of practice.”
But ultimately whose responsibility is it to take research and put it into a format that can be better understood by the community?
If we want to continue to push for healthcare transformation, we must be armed with the most up to date information on the topic. We must have access to cutting edge research that can be used to help inform our communities and policy makers. However, we also must understand the research in order to have a clue.
Many academic leaders also have a prolific online presence through blogs and other social media avenues. Together, let’s continue to take the fascinating health services research emerging at a lightening pace and help translate it into a language our communities can understand.