Smooth transitions: CHSRA and Zimmerman will expand expertise

Posted on 06. Oct, 2011 by in Academic Departments, Annual Report, Healthcare and Medicine, Industrial and Systems Engineering, Issues, Research

As its 40th anniversary approaches, the Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis (CHSRA) is at the beginning of new era. Professor David Zimmerman, who directed the center for more than 20 years, retired in summer 2011. Yet that doesn’t mean he or CHSRA are slowing down; as Zimmerman focuses on new projects, CHSRA researchers are expanding the center’s expertise.

Founded in 1973 by Professor Emeritus David Gustafson, CHSRA has become a dynamic center for developing and implementing healthcare performance measures. Among the center’s many accomplishments are the “CHSRA indictors” used by federal regulators and healthcare providers to target areas of nursing homes in need of improvement.

In the last decade, CHSRA has begun exploring ways to address healthcare efficiency, a critical issue in the U.S. healthcare system. The challenge requires multidisciplinary efforts, and CHSRA collaborates closely with local and national healthcare providers, purchasers and regulators. “We hope to build on our success by expanding the scope of CHSRA’s research to include care quality, cost and value issues in long-term care and other healthcare venues,” says Senior Research Scientist Jim Robinson, who became the CHSRA director in 2009. “We plan to leverage CHSRA’s expertise in managing and analyzing large secondary healthcare data sources to facilitate efficient and secure access to these data by other UW researchers.”

Zimmerman hopes to continue his affiliation with the department as a professor emeritus and in “retirement,” he intends to develop a better system to meet the needs of patients during the process of transferring from one healthcare setting to another, such as from a hospital to nursing home. He also is passionate about reforming the policy of administering antipsychotic drugs to nursing-home patients who may not need them.

Ultimately, both Zimmerman and current CHSRA researchers plan to build on the center’s long tradition of healthcare performance measurement. “The major accomplishment of my work at CHSRA and as a member of the ISyE department has been to help people understand how to improve healthcare systems and evaluate those efforts objectively,” Zimmerman says. UW crest

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