Altarum Institute

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Altarum Institute
Industry Health Systems Research
Founded 1946
Headquarters Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Key people
Lincol Smith, CEO
Products Health care consulting, Health systems research
Number of employees
390 (2014)
Headquarters building from Green Road, Ann Arbor

Altarum Institute is a nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization serving government, nonprofit and private-sector clients. With the rigor of the finest research institution, consulting skills honed for nearly seven decades, and an abiding commitment to the public interest, Altarum Institute enables better care and better health for all people. Altarum’s mission is to serve the public good by solving complex systems problems to improve human health, integrating research, technology, analysis, and consulting skills.

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]

In 2009, Altarum acquired KAI Research, Inc., adding clinical research and research-based knowledge to its portfolio.[2] In 2011, Altarum acquired Palladian Partners, a leader in the health communications field.[3]

Health systems research[edit]

Altarum Institute primarily conducts health systems research, to help clients understand and solve the underlying issues that cause health care delivery and financing systems they oversee to become inefficient, ineffective, or unsustainable.

Altarum Institute 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’s Systems Change Model helps people see the broader environment in which these systems operate and in which problems arise. This methodology identifies critical system interactions and focuses on the root causes that can lead a system to fail. Through Altarum’s systems research and the Systems Change Model, they can help visualize the whole picture – ensuring a more comprehensive and sustainable solution to a problem.

Core services[edit]

Altarum Institute 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.[4] Altarum's technical service offerings are grouped into the following seven categories:

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’s model combines client-focused research, evaluation, consulting, and technology services with internally chartered research and demonstration activities. This allows the Institute to be deeply engaged in solving health issues that confront us now while also giving them the capacity to understand and anticipate new challenges beyond the current scope of any project or client.

In 2011, Altarum launched a new phase of its research and demonstration program by creating four internal research centers, which focus on “critical systems issues” (drivers of broader, systematic reform):

Altarum has a health policy blog, the Altarum Health Policy Forum.