Founding of HPSS

The formation of the the Health Policy Statistics Section (HPSS) in the early 1990’s coincided with the substantial growth of health services and outcomes research that was taking place in that time period. The efforts to form the new section were also closely linked with the organizing of the first conference dedicated to statistical issues and methods of HSR studies.

A petition to create the section was circulated in 1993 and was submitted with 166 signatures to ASA for approval in 1994. The petition was approved by the ASA on July 13, 1994 (date of letter sent to Jimmy Efird). The inaugural chair of the HPSS (1994-1995) was Jimmy Efird (then at Massachusetts General Hospital), who had provided much of the impetus behind getting the signatures and corresponding with the ASA. In his words “The new section filled a much needed void for statisticians working on health services research”. The members of the inaugural executive committee in 1994 were:

Chair: Jimmy T. Efird
Chair-Elect: Ralph B. D’Agostino
Program Chair: Constantine Gatsonis
Program Chair-Elect: Arlene S. Ash
Publications Chair: R. Clifton Bailey
Publications Liaison Officer: Joseph M. Hilbe

Some of the other key players in the formation of HPSS included Steven Cohen, Sharon-Lise Normand, and Paula Diehr.

The mandate of the section was to focus on strategies for improving the quality and reducing the cost of health care in the US and abroad through systematic use of quantitative statistical methods. Membership of the HPSS was $3 for a regular member and $2 for a student member. Members receive an invitation to the annual business meeting held during the Joint Statistical Meetings. Since 2002 a student paper competition has been held and in recent years this has been contested by up to 70 students. The five winners present their work in a special session at the JSM and receive their awards at the annual business meeting.

The International Conference on Health Policy Statistics

The formation of the HPSS enabled provided a platform to organize a conference on methodological issues pertaining to the burgeoning field of health policy research. Approval to organize the first conference was provided in the form of a contract with the ASA, who underwrote the conference.

The first International Conference on Health Policy Statistics (ICHPS), formerly known as the International Conference on Health Policy Research (ICHPR), was held on December 11 and 12, 1995 at Massachusetts General Hospital and featured Michael Dukakis as keynote speaker at the pre-conference dinner held at the Harvard Faculty Club. This conference focused on methodological issues pertaining to analytical methods in health policy research. The members of the scientific planning committee were:

Arlene Ash Boston University Medical School
Steven Cohen Agency for Health Care Policy Research
Paula Diehr University of Washington
Frank Harrell Duke University Medical Center
Joseph Hilbe Arizona State University
Sharon-Lise Normand Harvard Medical School
Ralph D'Agostino Boston University (Program Co-Chair)
Constantine Gatsonis Brown University (Program Co-Chair)

The conference chairs were Constantine Gatsonis and Ralph D’Agostino (who was chair of the section at the time). Gatsonis handled the call for papers and formulation of the program while Jimmy Efird did a lot of the day-to-day organizing at MGH. Over 400 people attended the first conference.

The conference has been held approximately every two years thereafter. The key details of the ICHPS conferences are provided below:

Year Location Program Co-Chairs
1995 Boston, MA Constantine Gatsonis & Ralph D’Agostino
1997 Crystal City, VA Steven Cohen & Colin Goodall
1999 Santa Monica, CA Kimberly McGuigan
2001 Boston, MA Sharon-Lise Normand & Naihua Duan
2003 Chicago, IL Carolyn Rutter & Therese Stukel
2005 Boston, MA Arlene Ash & Tom Belin
2008 Philadelphia, PA Christopher Schmid & Joe Cappelleri
2010 Washington, DC
Anirban Basu & Constantine Frangakis
Cleveland, OH
Thomas Love & James O'Malley
2013 Chicago, IL Xiao-Hua (Andrew) Zhou & Don Hedeker
2015 Providence, RI Kelly H. Zou & Recai M. Yucel
2018 Charleston, SC Bonnie Ghosh-Dastidar & Laura Lee Johnson

The number of attendees during recent ICHPS conferences, verified by the ASA.

•        The 8th ICHPS in Washington, DC (2010): 232 attendees;

•        The 9th ICHPS in Cleveland, OH (2011): 212 attendees;

•        The 10th ICHPS in Chicago, IL (2013): 266 attendees.

•        The 11th ICHPS in Providence, RI (2015): 246 attendees.

Journal Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology

The third significant contribution from the founders Efird and Gatsonis was the creation of a journal specializing on health services research methods. The conference provided impetus for starting the new journal. The original idea was to publish the proceedings from the ICHPS but that idea was abandoned in favor of a journal.

The first attempt to find a publisher was with Chapman and Hall. A letter from Chapman and Hall to Jimmy Efird and Constantine Gatsonis dated February 16, 1996 suggested four possible names for a journal focused on Quantitative Methods in Health Care Policy. However, this did not eventuate. Following continued efforts from Gatsonis, Kluwer ultimately agreed to publish the journal known as Health Services and Outcomes Research Methodology (HSORM). It took a while to put the journal together and the first issue came out in 2000, featuring papers from the third ICHPR in 1999. The journal is now published by Springer and can be viewed online.

The Future

The future looks very exciting as the HPSS, ICHPS, and HSORM continue to thrive and to promote the role of statistical methodology in health services, health policy, and outcomes research