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Success Story: How REiR helped the Office of Emergency Medicine

Chad Kessler, MD, MBA, MHPE

Chad Kessler, MD, MBA, MHPE

Chad Kessler, MD, MBA, MHPE, co-leader of VA’s Office of Emergency Medicine, needed a researcher who could analyze Veterans’ use of community urgent and emergency care rather than VA care following implementation of the MISSION Act, which expanded Veteran access to non-VA healthcare. The consequences of Veterans choosing community over VA care include a substantial cost to VA, which Dr. Kessler estimates to be more than $7 billion spent annually on emergency-related community care alone.

Anita Vashi, MD, MPH, MHS

Anita Vashi, MD, MPH, MHS

Dr. Kessler turned to HSR&D’s REiR program and soon got the help and insight he needed. From December 2019 to September 2020, Anita Vashi, MD, MPH, MHS, and her team worked with Dr. Kessler’s office and the Office of Community Care to provide deliverables that included journal articles, conference presentations, and numerous presentations to VA leaders.

“Dr. Vashi’s efforts were critically important not only for our office,” Dr. Kessler says, “but also for VA field leaders to align efforts with the likely most impactful interventions. Her work helped us better understand the drivers of non-VA emergency and urgent care use among Veterans, allowing for more focused efforts to make VA care more attractive to Veterans.”

Dr. Vashi’s REiR work led to her being invited to serve as co-chair of the community care workgroup at the 2021 State of the Art Conference on VA Emergency Medicine, and her team was invited to present their work on a Healthcare Operations Center call, which, Dr. Vashi says, “usually consists of network directors, program office executive directors, and often VA leadership,” including Shereef Elnahal, MD, MBA, VA Under Secretary for Health.

“The expertise I developed during my time as a REiR has resulted in additional research and evaluation opportunities,” Dr. Vashi says. “The REiR is an excellent program to build a productive partnership between researchers and decision-makers, and we anticipate continuing this partnership beyond the REiR. . . . This experience opened many doors for me.”

Dr. Kessler described the REiR program as “an exceptional and highly valuable partnership” that “not only assists the organization or program office with more impactful strategic planning, but highlights “the critical importance of having a research and analysis expert in the office to guide evidence-based policy and strategic direction decision-making. We hope to continue having an emergency medicine REiR in future years.”

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