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Health Policy: TMC Health Policy Institute announces research grants

New TMC Health Policy Institute grants will support collaborative research to improve health of Texans through policy change

Health Policy: TMC Health Policy Institute announces research grants

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The TMC Health Policy Institute has just announced a $750,000 grant program to support collaborative health policy research among TMC member institutions.

Health policy broadly describes the actions taken by governments—national, state and local—to advance the public’s health. Approximately 20 percent of the increase in life expectancy is due to public health measures that affect individuals—such as seatbelts, smoking regulations and immunizations. Health policy requires a range of legislative and regulatory efforts at the local, state, national and international level—not just by elected officials but by a number of bodies including state medical and nursing boards. Health care policy is that piece of health policy that deals with the organization, financing and delivery of health care services. This includes training of health professionals, providing an adequate health care workforce, overseeing the safety of drugs and medical devices and overseeing public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. These regulations, such as payment policy, ultimately affect commercial insurance and employers as well.

Health policy research provides evidence to support policy, such as providing data to improve the efficiency of Medicaid or developing data to support innovative ways to provide incentives for quality or new models to deliver health care.

One of the major functions of the Health Policy Institute is to support collaboration among TMC members in ways that have not been done before and in ways they could not do alone. Under the rubric of “money moves mountains,” the TMC grant program will help oil that process. Institutions wanting to “go it alone” need not apply.

There are two types of grants. The first is $250,000 for a pilot grant in preparation for larger national funding; at least three TMC members must collaborate. The second grant is $150,000 for at least two collaborators, or $200,000 for at least four collaborators to develop policy research & development or impact grants. Such a grant could research newer methods to assess health care manpower needs (e.g. How do we know if there are enough cardiologists in a rural county?) and then propose policies for dealing with the findings.

The National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are the major funders of research in health care. They rarely fund such fundamental research aimed at actual policy change. For outstanding research to produce results, multi-institution work such as this grant program will fill a much-needed void.

At the end of the one-year grant period, we expect several lasting collaborations will have been established, making use of the greatest strength of the entire Texas Medical Center—the ability to produce what one cannot do alone for improvements in health.

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