Altarum Institute

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Altarum Institute
Type Nonprofit
Industry Health Systems Research
Founded 1946
Headquarters Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Key people Linc Smith, CEO
Products Health care consulting, Health systems research
Operating income IncreaseUS$55 million (2008)
Net income IncreaseUS$55 million (2008)
Employees 350(2009)
Headquarters building from Green Road, Ann Arbor

Altarum Institute is a nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization serving government and private-sector clients. Altarum provides objective research and tailored consulting services to help clients understand and solve the complex systems problems that impact health and health care. By conducting both consulting and independent research, Altarum claims their model combines the benefits of an analytical research institution with the business acumen of a traditional consultancy to deliver comprehensive, systems-based solutions.

Altarum Institute traces its history back to 1946 with the founding of the Willow Run Laboratory in Ypsilanti, Michigan. In 1972, the Willow Run Laboratory was renamed the Environmental Research Institute of Michigan (ERIM). In 2001, after much of ERIM's organization and contracts were collected into a for-profit entity and sold to Veridian Corp., ERIM acquired Vector Research, Inc. (VRI),[1] a leading provider of health care forecasting models and decision support tools for federal and state government clients. Later that year, ERIM became Altarum Institute. In 2006, to further advance and focus its expertise in health care, Altarum acquired Health Systems Research, Inc. and divested itself of its Environmental and Emerging Technologies Division (EETD) to Michigan Technological University, forming the Michigan Tech Research Institute.[citation needed]

Health systems research[edit]

Altarum Institute primarily conducts health systems research. Health systems research is ultimately concerned with improving the health of people and communities by enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the health system as an integral part of the overall process of socio-economic development, with full involvement of all partners.[2] Altarum states that health systems research begins with the understanding that there is no single health care “system.” Health and health care depend on a complex fabric of systems that are constantly interacting and shaping human health. Altarum relies on a proprietary System Change Model to conduct their research and consulting. They claim this methodology identifies critical system interactions and focuses on the root causes that can lead a system to fail. Systems research and the Systems Change Model ensures that an entire system is analyzed, providing for a more comprehensive and sustainable solution to health care problems. Critics argue that their methodology places them in a conflict of interest position.

Core services[edit]

Altarum Institute says it is widely recognized for providing its clients with research and solutions that are technically robust, pragmatic, and carefully aligned with the cultural norms of the populations being served.[3] Altarum's technical service offerings are grouped into the following five categories: health research and analysis; health program development and evaluation; health care operations and finance; and health promotion, conference, and Web services. With Altarum's acquisition of KAI Research, Inc.[4] in January 2009, they now offer a range of clinical research support and pharmacovigilance services.[5]

Altarum also cites a number of areas of significant expertise, including behavioral health; chronic disease management; community health; food assistance and nutrition; health disparities and intercultural health; health information technology; HIV/AIDS; managed care and the continuum of care; military and veterans health; obesity; and women, children and adolescents.

Research and initiatives[edit]

Altarum Institute conducts both internal and externally focused research projects and initiatives. Its Mission Projects Initiative, launched in 2008, is a $7 million self-funded program which will study childhood obesity prevention, veterans care integration, and community health centers at multiple sites around the country.[6]

In June 2009 in an effort to become involved in the health reform debate, Altarum released what it called its "three key attributes of health reform" at a Capitol Hill seminar and press conference.[7] These three key attributes of reform proposed by Altarum are innovation in health care, health and wellness, and health equity.

As a further part of its outreach and initiatives, Altarum launched its own health policy blog, the Altarum Health Policy Forum.[8]


  1. ^ "InternetNews - Software, Storage, Security, Server, Networking News for IT Managers - InternetNews". InternetNews. 1969-12-31. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  2. ^ "Publications - Publications". Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  3. ^ "Health Systems Research & Consulting Services | Altarum Institute". Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  4. ^ "KAI Research, Inc. | An Exceptional Contract Research Organization | Kunitz and Associates | Clinical Trials Services". Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  5. ^ "Altarum Acquires KAI Research | Ann Arbor Biz News®". 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  6. ^ Crains Detroit Business, October 27, 2008 (p. 35)
  7. ^ Michigan Set your local edition ». "Ann Arbor's Altarum Institute weighs in on health care reform". Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-08-03.