VA Honors Public Health Professor with Top Research Award

Cited for “exceptional achievement” in improving quality of health care for veterans

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Dan Berlowitz, a professor of health policy and management at Boston University’s School of Public Health (SPH), has been named the recipient of the US Department of Veterans Affairs 2015 Under Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Health Services Research.

The award is the highest honor for a VA health services researcher and represents exceptional achievement in improving the health and quality of care of veterans. Winners have also shown the ability to inspire and train the next generation of health services researchers and enhance the visibility and recognition of VA research nationally.

Berlowitz is former co-director of the VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR), located in Bedford and Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. From 2004 to 2013, Berlowitz served as director of HSR&D’s Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research, and since 2012 he has served as acting chief of staff for the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial VA Hospital in Bedford.

Berlowitz’s research relies on strong methodological expertise in the areas of quality assessment, risk adjustment, and the use of large databases. He is leading the SPH collaboration with Optum Labs, a Cambridge-based research center. His work focuses on assessing and improving the quality of health care for veterans, with particular emphasis on ambulatory and long-term care settings.

Berlowitz’s research has been directly applicable to the health care of veterans. According to the VA, Berlowitz examined the care of veterans with hypertension and recognized what is now referred to as “clinical inertia”—the failure to intensify therapy when indicated. His research led to a reevaluation in how people think about the problem of uncontrolled hypertension, and the VA responded through a quality improvement initiative. Hypertension control rates at VA hospitals are now well over 70 percent, in large part due to reducing clinical inertia.

A version of this article was originally published in the BU School of Public Health.

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