AcademyHealth President and CEO Dr. Lisa Simpson, opened today's plenary session with a moment of silence to mark the sudden passing of Barbara Starfield M.D., M.P.H., a pillar of the primary care community and a beloved colleague. Dr. Simpson then returned to her prepared remarks, which focused on the challenges the current political and funding environment present for our field. Said Simpson, "While AcademyHealth and the field we represent enjoy broad support and respect among those who know us well, there remain significant opportunities to educate policymakers about the work we do and its impact."  Dr. Simpson then outlined three strategies to hold the line and position the field for the future:

  1. Remain relevant in the questions we answer and rigorous  in the methods we use,
  2. Expand our perspective and embrace innovations and new opportunities, and
  3. Focus on the impact of our work by emphasizing translation
"We have to push ourselves to move beyond description and documentation of challenges to the identification of effective strategies that will solve what seem to be intractable problems – the inexorable cost curve, the pervasive disparities in access and quality, the toll of preventive morbidity and mortality," said Dr. Simpson. " We need to do even more intervention research, comparing what works, for whom, under what circumstances, and at what cost." REACH Challenge Supporting this call, Dr. Simpson announced the launch of the AcademyHealth/Health 2.0 REACH Challenge –Relevant Evidence to Advance Care and Health. The Challenge is a competition that invites multidisciplinary teams to translate evidence and data into an app that provides useful information to improve health and health care. The winning team will receive $5,000.  According to Dr. Simpson, the Challenge, "represents an opportunity to think creatively, seek out new information and partners, and evaluate how data can improve the way we deliver quality, affordable, accessible health care solutions. It is exactly these types of activities that will expand the visibility of the field, promote its relevance and build a bridge to long-term, sustainable funding and support." Pleanary Keynote: Molly Coye, University of California, Los Angeles Health System Keynote speaker Molly Coye addressed the role of health care social media and how new technologies are changing our awareness of what we think we know, introducing new actors into the research enterprise and creating a need for new methods to process new data sources. Coye began with a clip of a Talking Heads song, whose lyrics include, "Facts all come with a point of view." She built upon this theme to point out that what we need are facts that lead to action - facts that challenge our points of view and push us toward new information. New technologies, said Coye, are important because they support engagement, not just dissemination. With new technology, patients, families and other stakeholders are activated by information. This forces a change in our perception of who does research by enabling and empowering direct participation of patients and consumers in what is being studied, by whom, and with what methods. It also has the potential to change who pays for research - prompting industry, foundations and providers who need information to support it - and to generate new tools and sources of information. Coye concluded her presentation by challenging the field to create the methods that will help us "know what we need to know" about the use of emerging technology.