Posted: October 27th, 2016 | By: Megan Collado and Lauren Gerlach
Professor Mark Hall‘s 2010 study, “Examining Employers’ Use of Massachusetts’ Health Insurance Exchange to Inform Best Strategies Nationally Under the Affordable Care Act,” was referenced in the article, “How Can Research Be More Useful And Used? Lessons From A Long-Running Grant-Making Program,” published on Health Affairs Blog on Oct. 25, 2016.
The article discusses the challenges of getting relevant, effective background research into the hands of health policy makers and provides four solutions, or lessons: (1) For research to be policy relevant, you get out of it what you put into it; (2) Know and respect the audiences you seek to inform; (3) Research investments are as much about the people as the product; and (4) Tracking impact: don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
Professor Hall’s study was included in the first lesson:
“Early on, we recognized that connecting applicants and their ideas with policy makers and their priorities was a crucial step in generating useful research. Health Care Financing Organization (HCFO) staff played an important role in brokering this communication—beginning with the initial grant application. Proposals underwent review by both methodological experts and people with policy expertise, with funding contingent in part on the reviewers’ assessments of projects’ timeliness, relevance, and potential contribution to actionable policy or practice change. Successful applicants were encouraged to incorporate policy maker feedback—provided in the form of blinded reviews—into their projects, with the end result that many HCFO-funded studies were informed by policy makers before the work even began!
“We continued to ‘bridge’ researchers and policy makers throughout the research cycle. For example, when grantee and law professor Mark Hall of Wake Forest University launched a study in 2012 to understand why employer use of the Massachusetts Connector for the small-group market lagged behind expectations, HCFO staff, at the outset and midpoint of his study, connected Hall with state policy makers who helped him refine his survey instrument and ensure the study would be useful to states implementing health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act.”