National health policy is playing an ever-increasing role in the day-to-day practice of medicine, and it’s becoming more important for physician groups to advocate effectively for policies that benefit their physicians and patients. However, many of ACEP’s leaders felt that emergency medicine’s positions weren’t making a big enough impact on policymakers. Several members of the Emergency Medicine Foundation (EMF) Board of Trustees—including Vidor Friedman, MD, FACEP, and Wesley Fields, MD, FACEP—recognized that, in order for emergency medicine to be an effective advocate for the health policy needs of emergency patients, the specialty would need more research and data to back up its ideas. They decided to launch a grant program to support emergency medicine policy scholarship.
The Health Policy Scholar grants are funded by the Emergency Medicine Action Fund (EMAF) and awarded by the EMF. The grant program’s long-term goal is to develop a group of emergency physicians who are not only experienced researchers but health policy experts and who can investigate and provide support for policies that will benefit emergency physicians and their patients.
To date, the program has funded two researchers. In 2014, the first EMF/EMAF Health Policy Research Scholar Award was bestowed to Arjun Venkatesh, MD, MBA. In 2015, Michelle Lin, MD, MPH, was the Award recipient. These researchers recently sat down with some of the ACEP leaders and staff who were instrumental in launching this health policy research program to discuss the importance of studying health policy in emergency medicine.
Here is a summary of their conversation.
SA: What exactly is health policy research?
SS: Health policy research, in my mind, is really about how the policies we make to control or conduct our health care affect how health care is provided and what the effect is on the patient. Any time we make a decision about changing the way health care is provided, it can have a profound impact on patients and on the health of our nation.