Letter from the Editor

This issue of RAND Health Quarterly includes a special focus on the work of RAND Europe.

In particular, RAND Europe has a significant body of research in the area of science policy as it relates to health and health care. “In Search of the Holy Grail: Understanding Research Success” considers the continuing challenge, particularly acute in mental health, facing research funders in selecting which research proposals to support and the options for building an evidence base to support those decisions. Related work examines the use of bibliometric analysis as a means to develop this evidence base; a strand of this was to provide an accessible “beginner's guide” to bibliometric theory and application in the area of health research and development decisionmaking. Such bibliometric tools rely on long-term access to scientific, technical, and medical data collections, the topic of a scoping study that examines the potential role of the British Library in facilitating access to relevant data sets in the biosciences and environmental science. RAND Europe has also played a leading role in developing tools to capture the social impacts (and value) of research, such as a survey instrument that helps the UK National Institute for Health Research and UK Medical Research Council to better understand the wider impact of their research output on society and the economy. Finally, “Changing the Translational Research Landscape: A Review of the Impacts of Biomedical Research Units in England” reviews how the implementation of biomedical research centers in the UK contributes to observable changes in institutional relationships between the National Health Service, academia, industry, and other players and is helping to shape the health research system to pursue translational research and innovation for patient benefit.

Other studies emphasize international benchmarking and cross-national comparison. For example, one study included in this issue examines opportunities for international benchmarking using existing quality indicators and cross-national data. It sets out the options that are available and describes ongoing efforts aimed at the systematic analysis of the suitability of routine data sets for comparing quality of care in different countries. This study highlights both the potential power of cross-national comparisons and some of the difficulties in drawing valid interpretations from available data. An additional study explores funding options for intensive care in eight health systems that use activity-based payment based on diagnosis-related groups. It finds that that there is no obvious example of “best practice” or dominant approach used by a majority of systems while highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of approaches chosen in different settings, particularly in relation to the financial risk involved in providing intensive care.

In addition to highlighting research from RAND Europe, this issue includes articles that explore the challenges to increasing innovation in health care delivery, global spending on HIV care, and how performance measures are being used in the U.S. health care system.

Ellen Nolte and Steve Wooding, guest editors

Robin M. Weinick, Ph.D., editor

RAND Health Quarterly is produced by the RAND Corporation. ISSN 2162-8254.