IHSPR Scientific Director: Dr. Robyn Tamblyn

As I begin my term as the third Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Health Services and Policy Research (CIHR-IHSPR), it is a privilege and an honour to have this moment to reflect on IHSPR's many successes to date and the opportunities that lie ahead for our community over the next few years.

Under the pioneering guidance of the Institute's first two Scientific Directors, Dr. Morris Barer and Dr. Colleen Flood, IHSPR has made significant gains on a number of fronts. Where just over ten years ago there was limited funding for health services and policy research under the old National Health Research Development Program, IHSPR now supports a growing community of multi-disciplinary researchers who are interconnected across the country and conducting top-quality research relevant to policy and practice. Through a variety of initiatives including chair programmes, emerging team grants, and major training grants, IHSPR has worked hard to develop the capacity needed to support a strong research enterprise. Furthermore, IHSPR has broken new ground in support of an integrated knowledge translation programs, signalling to researchers and decision-makers alike the necessity of research that speaks to real world issues and the importance of evidence-informed decision making.

IHSPR has also set in motion new strategic initiatives that are intended to address the significant changes that will happen across Canada's healthcare landscape over the next several years. As the 2014 expiration of the First Ministers' Health Accord draws near, questions around financing, sustainability, and good governance will become top of mind for policy makers and the public alike. Through a suite of funding opportunities that will be offered within our new Evidence Informed Healthcare Renewal program, the Institute will work to ensure that sound evidence on these critical topics is readily available to inform emerging policy debates The upcoming launch of IHSPR's new multi-year Strategic Initiative in Community-Based Primary Healthcare will generate valuable evidence on how healthcare systems and providers can more effectively meet the diverse needs of individuals and communities across a wide range of healthcare settings. In the context of an aging population, ever-growing healthcare budgets, and nation-wide demands for better quality of care, these strategic initiatives will fund research that will lead to new approaches for attaining effective and sustainable healthcare delivery.

Looking forward, there are new and exciting opportunities for our Institute to deliver on its mandate of supporting research that contributes to improved health systems. Research is producing many "disruptive" innovations that have the capacity to transform the way care is delivered and improve the outcomes that can be achieved. Biomarkers are being developed that allow high-risk patients and those most likely to benefit from specific treatments to be identified, facilitating more personalized approaches to medicine. The emergence of nanotechnologies will enable more point-of-care testing and less invasive treatment modalities. The implementation of electronic health records has created a basis upon which our community can develop and evaluate advanced analytic methods for timely monitoring of adverse effects, tailored treatment, and targeted prevention and management of acute and chronic disease.. At the same time, emerging technologies are enabling virtual visits, remote monitoring, and personalized health records for patients and families. As Pillar III researchers, our future challenges will lie in the development of new avenues of care delivery, and the evaluation and implementation of these innovations to their greatest benefit and within available fiscal resources.

The coming years hold great promise for health services and policy researchers. There are a wealth of opportunities to seize and important challenges to overcome, and I truly look forward to working together with CIHR, Institute staff, and our research community towards IHSPR's vision of outstanding health services and policy research to improve health system outcomes.

Robyn Tamblyn
January 2011

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