Since its launch in 2007, the Center for Health and Research Transformation (CHRT) has informed policy decisions that have impacted the health care landscape in Michigan and beyond. CHRT does this by making substantial contributions to the body of health services research that policymakers rely on, by running demonstration projects to identify ways to improve health and health care, and by helping health researchers become more effective at conveying their research findings to policymakers and the press. The goal of all this? To inspire and enable evidence-informed policies and practices that improve the health of people and communities. 

“CHRT plays a critical role in ensuring Michigan families and communities have the facts on health care reform. From disseminating thoughtful and relevant research to participating in town halls and answering questions from the community — not to mention answering my own real-time questions during markup — CHRT helps families understand how potential changes to health care policy will impact them.” Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI)

Policy impact

  • Informed Michigan’s decision to expand Medicaid. Through key fiscal analyses that projected over $1 billion in net savings to the state over 10 years and through survey data that showed ample access to primary care providers across Michigan, CHRT helped to influence the state’s decision to develop the Healthy Michigan plan, which now provides coverage to more than 700,000 Michiganders.
  • Trained health policy leaders. Through CHRT’s fellowship, dozens of health researchers have learned how to communicate effectively with policymakers and the press and dozens of state decision leaders have learned how to access and interpret recent scientific studies that can inform the policymaking process. CHRT’s 82 fellowship alumni now include legislative directors, policy analysts, and chiefs of staff for Senators and Representatives from both sides of the aisle, as well as professors of dentistry, internal medicine, pediatrics, social work, and more.
  • Influenced public discourse. In the last 12 months, CHRT gave close to two-dozen public presentations to organizations and associations contending with significant health policy challenges and responded to more than 100 media inquiries, often under pressing time constraints. During the same period, CHRT staff and research findings were cited in more than seven-dozen stories in a broad range of local and national media outlets including USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, Modern Healthcare, Michigan Public Radio, and more.

Demonstration project impact

  • Improved community health. CHRT serves as backbone organization to the Washtenaw Health Initiative, a collaboration between more than 200 individuals and organizations committed to delivering better care to low-income, under-insured, and uninsured populations. This collaborative, which is cosponsored by Michigan Medicine and the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, has helped save more than 100 people from opioid overdoses, helped tens of thousands access and keep health coverage, and more.
  • Addressed the social determinants of health. CHRT serves as the backbone organization for the State Innovation Model (SIM) pilot in the Livingston and Washtenaw County region. A three-year demonstration project launched by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, CHRT’s community health innovation region aims to reduce emergency department utilization by addressing the health and human service needs of those who frequently use emergency department services.
  • Reduced care costs and enhanced patient-physician relationships. CHRT partnered with the State of Michigan and the University of Michigan Health System to implement the Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project (MiPCT), a five-year demonstration designed to improve health, make care more affordable, and strengthen the relationships between patients and their care teams. MiPCT was the largest Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) project in the nation with 355 practices and 1,900 physicians, and Michigan was one of only two states to show consistent savings over the demonstration period (including net Medicare savings of $336 million). MiPCT has now transitioned to an ongoing program, located at CHRT headquarters in Ann Arbor.  

Research and analytic impact

  • Tracked key health trends. Since 2009, CHRT has run the Cover Michigan survey, which asks Michiganders about their insurance coverage and access to care. By assembling important pre-ACA implementation data and refreshing it annually, CHRT tracks trends over time and provides useful data for decision leaders including patient satisfaction with health plans, disparities in mental and reproductive health benefit use, and more. Since 2012, CHRT has surveyed primary care physicians, as well. Through CHRT’s annual Michigan Physician Survey, decision leaders can learn about new health tech trends, health insurance trends, and the ACA’s impact on practices and patients.
  • Published more than 125 issue briefs. CHRT issue briefs have rapidly translated the technical details of health policy proposals as they are being debated; they have revealed the cost and use patterns of health care services in Michigan and across the nation; and they have described dozens of promising strategies for improving population health.
  • Funded 26 health services research studies. CHRT-funded research studies have focused on informing health policy or practice questions related to evidence-based care delivery and insurance product design. These  studies examined low back pain treatment, Patient Centered Medical Home initiatives, Value-Based Insurance Design, and the use of pediatric observation beds in the emergency department.