By David Woods ([email protected])

Entusiasmo. That’s a word that describes, in his native Italian, what Vittorio Maio brings to his work in health policy and outcomes research. “What makes me really happy,” he says, “is being able to see research theory translate into actual practice in the real world.”

Vittorio graduated from the University of Perugia and moved to the United States in 1999; there, he immediately joined Dr. David Nash’s Department of Health Policy at Thomas Jefferson Medical College, where he is a research assistant professor and director of the Fellowship programme in outcomes research.

But he has not lost touch with his professional and cultural roots. A few hours after our interview for this article, he was winging his way back to Italy – a trip he makes four or five times a year. In Bologna, he conducts population-based outcomes research with a unique healthcare database. The studies embrace differences in the use of health care services between men and women, the elderly, and children; they look at approaches to, say, cardiac care and how general practitioners might be persuaded to change their approaches to treatment and prescribing. They are even touching gently upon the idea of pay-for-performance among physicians.

Vittorio brings this international perspective to his professorial role at Jefferson. He finds that his students are particularly receptive to this… and he is not afraid of editorialising on the subject of American healthcare, which he describes as the most regressive system in the world. “We all pay the same,” he says. “People should pay according to their resources.”

In general, Vittorio’s particular research enthusiasm has to do with the elderly, with trying to change physician behaviour, and with pay-for-performance – linking quality to incentives. Beyond that, he says, non-adherence to drug regimens “is a huge interest.”

Asked about HOC, he is equally upbeat: “What you’re doing,” he says, “is an important way to connect health economists, researchers and decision-makers. It’s concrete, an easy read, and credible.”