Spotlight on Implementation Science

Feb 27, 2018

What do you see as the major challenge of bringing evidence to policy makers in real time?

Rachel Vreeman, MD, MS

When I consider this challenge, I am struck by how our divided systems and “different languages” within our disciplines stand in the way of this goal. In the current system, conducting a rigorous study to generate high-quality evidence often requires a year or two of trying to get funding and then several years to implement and complete the study. Then, if we rely on academic publications to disseminate our findings, it could be 10 years before the key lessons learned in the research are incorporated into practice within healthcare systems or delivered to policy makers.

We need to find the right venues in which to interact and communicate with each other much more quickly – across disciplines and with the language that allows us to understand each other, whether we are implementation scientists, program implementers, or policy makers. These venues need to open up rapid, real-time interaction where we can go back and forth with each other, where research influences practice, and practice influences research. With this kind of learning system, innovations will be best disseminated to improve care.

Dr. Rachel Vreeman is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and the Joe and Sarah Ellen Scholar for Global Health Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Director of Research for the Indiana University Center for Global Health. She is also the North American Director of Research for the AMPATH Research Network in Kenya. The AMPATH partnership provides comprehensive HIV treatment for over 150,000 patients in Kenya and includes a broad research network with over 120 active research protocols in Kenya. Dr. Vreeman also chairs the Pediatric Working Group for the global IeDEA (International Epidemiologic Databases Evaluating AIDS) consortium, a global consortium of HIV care programs funded by the National Institutes of Health. She is a member of the steering committee for the International AIDS Society’s pediatric program.

Dr. Vreeman’s research focuses on improving the provision of healthcare to children within resource-limited settings, focusing on supporting children’s adherence to HIV therapy, disclosure of HIV status, and other HIV-related health behavioral challenges for children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Vreeman graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University. She received her MD from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, and completed her internship, residency, and a chief residency in pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. She also completed a fellowship in Children’s Health Services Research and a master’s degree in clinical research at the Indiana University School of Medicine. In addition to her academic research pursuits, she is the co-author of three popular books debunking medical myths and applying evidence to the (often false) ideas people hold about their bodies and health.