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VHA Center for Applied Healthcare Studies

VHA’s Center for Applied Healthcare Studies is a collaborative think tank where VHA’s leading health care systems can come together to work with industry experts to study new models of care delivery and payment most closely tied to health care reform. Our goal is to help hospitals better coordinate care and manage health care for large populations.

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Launched in 2012, the Center has been awarded multi-million dollar grants for two national initiatives to help hospitals improve patient outcomes, drive better quality and reduce costs.

  • Approximately $6 million to serve as a Hospital Engagement Network (HEN) for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Partnership for Patients initiative to reduce patient harm in 10 specific areas of focus.
  • The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation awarded TransforMED, VHA and Phytel with a three-year project of over $21 million, of which VHA receives approximately $1.3 million over three years. The Collaborative partnership will demonstrate the viability of the Patient-Centered Medical Neighborhood (PCMN).

The Center is organized into two divisions to explore and analyze solutions. These divisions provide the Center with opportunities to better understand the required quality and safety changes in health care today and to test new ideas in real-world environments.

  • Policy and Research division conducts an annual environmental assessment as well as VHA-directed studies where VHA is the principle investigator and VHA-Sponsored Studies where VHA functions as the convener.
  • Demonstrations division focuses on delivering both large and small-scale tests of change. 

Directing the Center’s research are eight nationally renowned industry experts in the fields of economics and finance, policy, design, safety and quality along with five VHA leaders. This advisory group will shape and prioritize the Center’s research agenda and provide guidance for future projects.

The Center will continue to focus on those aspects of health care reform that will form the foundation for the future of health care, such as population health, care coordination, patient engagement and experience, and safety and quality.


 Industry advisors

  • Susan Edgman-Levitan, PA - Executive director of the John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate in Health Policy, Harvard Medical School
  • Harry S. Hertz, PhD, FAAAS, HFACHE - Director emeritus, Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Harlan M. Krumholz, MD, SM - Harold H. Hines Jr., Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health Yale University School of Medicine
  • David B. Nash, MD, MBA - Dean, Jefferson School of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University
  • Mary D. Naylor, PhD, FAAN, RN - The Marian S. Ware professor in gerontology and director of the New Courtland Center for Transitions and Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
  • Meredith B. Rosenthal, PhD - Professor of health economics and policy, Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health
  • Valinda Rutledge, MBA, MSN - President/CEO, Rutledge Health Care Consulting
  • Marianne Udow-Phillips, MHSA - Director, Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation; University of Michigan School of Public Health

 VHA advisors




Partnership for Patients Hospital Engagement Network

VHA was selected as one of only 26 private-sector organizations to be a part the historic Partnership for Patients initiative launched by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). VHA supports the Partnership’s objectives to reduce preventable harm by 40% and readmissions by 20% by the end of 2013. VHA has nearly 200 HEN hospitals participating in this initiative in 10 areas of focus. 


  • Two year contract (2011 – 2013) totaling approximately $6M with an optional third year funding (pending for 2014) for an additional $3M


  • Trained 100% of our HEN hospitals in VHA’s Rapid Adoption Network™ improvement methodology (800+ hospital staff)
  • Provided more than 125 educational events with over 8,000 participants
  • Developed Early Elective Delivery Reduction Program in partnership with the March of Dimes
  • Launched Leadership Model of Accountability Demonstration Project with Dr. Peter Pronovost and his team from the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Safety and Quality
  • Co-lead CMS’ Product Safety and Resource Management Affinity Group
  • Reached the July 31 CMS interim performance improvement targets in eight areas of focus and exceeded the 30% performance improvement goal in four areas: early elective deliveries, ventilator-associated pneumonia, pressure ulcers and surgical site infections

Patient-Centered Medical Neighborhood

Awarded by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, this collaborative partnership project, which includes 15 health systems and provider organizations, will demonstrate the viability of the Patient-Centered Medical Neighborhood expansion of the medical home concept, connecting hospitals, specialists and community health resources with primary care to drive better quality and superior patient experience at an affordable cost.


  • CMMI awarded TransforMED, VHA and Phytel with a three-year project (2012-2015) of over $21 million, of which VHA receives approximately $1.3 million over three year


  • Selection of communities finalized totaling 15 Hospital / Health Systems and 90 Physician Practices
  • System implementation and “go live” activities including Practice Site Visits, Learning Collaboratives and Measurement Reporting

Management Characteristics and their Role in Patient Experience

Survey being conducted by Seth Glickman, M.D., Asst. Professor, Dept. of Emergency Medicine, UNC Chapel Hill to understand managerial approaches around patient experience in VHA hospitals and their relationship with publicly reported HCAHPS scores

  • Study goal: 200 hospital participants


  • Hospitals reported strong commitment from leaders to patient experience; wide variation in organizational approaches and barriers to patient experience
  • Hospitals with strong culture, accountability, and collaborative approach have higher HCAHPS scores (p<0.05)
  • Final data collection and analysis end of July 2013
  • Manuscript submission anticipated mid- September 2013

 See all videos from CAHS industry advisors