Ann Arbor, MI   |


Altarum serves the public good by solving complex systems problems to improve human health, integrating research, technology, analysis, and consulting skills.

Ruling year info


President and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Lincoln T. Smith

Main address

3520 Green Court Suite 300

Ann Arbor, MI 48105 USA

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NTEE code info

Management & Technical Assistance (E02)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness

Altarum Institute’s Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness (CECAI) works to help the United States achieve social arrangements that ensure that, when we must live with serious chronic illnesses associated with advancing age, we can count on living meaningfully and comfortably, at a sustainable cost to our families and society.

Population(s) Served

CCCHC works to ensure a future where every health care decision is informed by individual preferences regarding benefits, risks, and price.

Population(s) Served

Altarum Institute’s Center for Healthy Child and Youth Development serves as a catalyst to promote progress in healthy child development by operating simultaneously as a research center, technical assistance provider, policy advocate, and partner to organizations with similar goals. Altarum Institute has devoted over 20 years to early childhood system building initiatives, providing both evaluation and technical assistance. Staff have extensive experience working with partners to develop, implement, and evaluate early childhood systems change initiatives and initiatives focused on promoting healthy living for children and families.

Population(s) Served

Altarum’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending (CSHS) aims to guide the transition of the United States to sustainable health spending growth by tracking spending and related cost factors, analyzing solutions, and advocating for meaningful change.

Population(s) Served

Vision: To create a "prevention culture" in the United States, where preventing disease and promoting health, based on scientific evidence, is a leading national priority.

The Center for Prevention’s (CFP) work includes both high-priority health topics and cross-cutting initiatives. We seek to achieve our vision by:

Analyzing policies and practices to identify high-impact actions;

Convening government, health care, and business stakeholders to assess critical issues;

Educating decisionmakers in every sector about innovative prevention policies and practices;

Providing translational tools to aid implementation; and

Advocating for the adoption of these approaches.

Priority Health Topics

Sexual Health – CFP manages the National Coalition for Sexual Health (NCSH), a group of more than 60 organizations and individuals working together to improve sexual health and well-being across the life span. The NCSH encourages productive and sustained conversations about sexual health and promotes high-quality sexual health information and health services.

Tobacco Control – Every day, CFP provides technical assistance to more than 2,000 tobacco control leaders and advocates who comprise the ActionToQuit Network. CFP recently developed a series of resources to assist hospitals, community health centers, and military treatment facilities in implementing evidence-based tobacco cessation services.

Aspirin – CFP’s Council on Aspirin for Health and Prevention promotes the appropriate use of low-dose aspirin to prevent heart attacks, strokes, and some cancers. CFP recently launched a new website to provide consumers and health care providers with information about aspirin and disease prevention.

Chlamydia – CFP convenes a diverse group of stakeholders to increase screening rates for chlamydia. The National Chlamydia Coalition increases awareness of the importance of chlamydia screening, treatment, and partner services and develops and promotes policies that ensure access to chlamydia screening and treatment for all populations.

Cross-cutting Initiatives

Community Health Advisor is an online tool with customizable information about the health and cost impact of implementing community interventions to reduce smoking and increase physical activity. CFP leads communications and dissemination efforts for this resource.

Leading by Example - The CFP educates businesses on the benefits of worksite health promotion through its Leading by Example initiative. Publications like Creating a Corporate Health Strategy encourage employers to adopt effective policies and practices for improving employee health.

Population(s) Served

Altarum Institute’s SmileConnect is an innovative program dedicated to improving the health of our nation’s children. Aiming to build a social network to better connect available oral health resources with children in need, SmileConnect provides an online portal to build a social network that connects existing dental resources and workforce capacity with vulnerable children nationwide.

Now officially available online, offers a unique environment that allows educators and community organizations to post requests for oral health resources and services, which are made public to dental providers, dental schools, and philanthropic donors who can identify opportunities they wish to support.

Ultimately, SmileConnect leverages the combined power of community, social networking, and coordinated philanthropy to transform children’s oral health nationwide.

Please visit us on for more information!

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Altarum’s mission is to serve the public good by solving complex systems problems to improve human health. Health and health care depend on a complex fabric of systems that are constantly interacting and shaping human health. Meaningful change in the health sector will be achieved only through a multipronged approach that affects a wide range of programs, policies, and structures.

We work to create that change through a combination of client-driven contract consulting and internally driven independent research and demonstration activities. As a national organization with numerous federal, state, and local government, corporate, nonprofit, and foundation clients, Altarum provides quality client-focused outcomes and solutions to their big health problems. With those health issues that are beyond the scope of any one client, we focus our efforts on an internal research and development program that dives deeply into a few big topics where we can have significant impact, such as youth development, elder care, sustainable spending, and consumer choice.

To achieve these goals, Altarum uses its Systems Change Model, which helps the Institute see the broader environment in which these health 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 or succeed.

Altarum’s structure combines client-funded research and consulting with an ongoing program of independent research and demonstration activities supported with internal and philanthropic funds, grants, and contracts to leverage the work. This allows the Institute to be deeply engaged in solving health issues that confront us now, while also giving it the capacity to understand and anticipate new challenges and approaches that might be beyond the immediate scope of any one project or client.

In 2008, Altarum leadership determined that, while making real progress on its mission through client-funded work, the Institute had an obligation to do more. In response, Altarum created an internal research and demonstration program to identify and deploy new approaches to solving some of these unmet societal needs. The first three projects in this program, which Altarum funded with $8 million, were completed in early 2011. These projects focused on integrating community-based social support and medical services for Veterans; improving the operational effectiveness of community health centers as they implemented patient-centered medical home models; and identifying, evaluating, and promoting successful childhood obesity prevention strategies.

In 2011, Altarum launched a new phase of its research and demonstration program with the creation of four internal research centers: the Center for Sustainable Health Spending, Center for Healthy Child and Youth Development, Center for Consumer Choice in Health Care, and the Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness. They are focused on “critical systems issues”— drivers of broader, systemic reform. Each Center has individual goals and strategies that move Altarum closer to our organizational goal of improving human health.

Directly and indirectly, Altarum is making it possible for communities and the people within them to live healthier, more productive lives. We can do this because of the talented individuals who work here, the trust that we have built with clients and foundations that support us, and the internal resources that we dedicate to objectively researching and demonstrating better ways to solve the complex systems problems that affect human health.

Altarum has numerous partnerships with businesses, health care systems, nonprofits, funders, individuals, and government at the federal, state, and local levels. As an organization with a $90 million annual operating budget and more than 400 staff members in seven offices around the country, we have a reliable 65-year record of systems-level change supported with a wide range of resources and capabilities. Our staff members have deep expertise in a number of technical and topical areas, including the following:
• Health Information and Technology Strategies
• Health Research, Policy and Analysis
• Health Program Management, Technical Assistance, and Evaluation
• Health Care Advisory Services
• Clinical Research Support and Pharmacovigilance
• Strategic Communications and Digital Services

Every project, activity, and initiative has the full backing of Altarum’s reputation, experience, and resources. Building on these strong capabilities and successes, we can tackle some of society’s most pressing issues in health.

Through novel research, practical demonstration, and targeted policy advocacy, each Altarum Center is delivering the insight, evidence, and policy models needed to accomplish meaningful and sustained reform of our health and health care systems. Specifically, our Center for Sustainable Health Spending is raising awareness of health’s impact on government budgets through studies, symposia, and publication in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness and its partners are demonstrating value of community-based care transitions, which were presented in a Journal of the American Medical Association article. Our Center for Consumer Choice in Health Care is identifying consumer preferences and priorities for making informed decisions on cost and quality of care. The Center for Healthy Child and Youth Development is improving organizations’ ability to evaluate success and value of prevention programs focused on nutrition and physical activity of children, including YMCA of the USA and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

As part of its previous research and development work, Altarum previously developed the Mission Project Initiative and invested $8 million over 3 years. The goals of the Mission Projects Initiative were to strengthen systems at the community, organizational, and institutional levels and to further develop Altarum’s capabilities in solving systems problems. Three Mission Projects were undertaken that addressed unique systems challenges whose improvements affected the health, quality of life, and economic security of millions of Americans:
• The Childhood Obesity Prevention Mission Project developed and piloted effective systems change models to confront the epidemic of childhood obesity;
• The Community Health Center Innovation Project worked to improve the health of vulnerable individuals and communities by applying our systems research expertise and innovative approaches to the federally qualified health center service delivery system; and
• Veterans Community Action Teams developed and tested a sustainable, collaborative community strategy and model(s) that enhances the delivery of services to Veterans and their families.

Community-based programs require strong, proven community-based leadership to create and sustain programs independent of high levels of community need and interest. Furthermore, without dedicated resources, programs that do not have nearly immediate impact with clearly defined milestones readily drift away from their intended objectives. Lastly, the environment in which these programs reside is dynamic and programs must be designed with flexibility in structure and process while focusing on outcomes.

As we continue to work on our goal of improving human health through systems-level change, the Centers and our client-focused work will build on existing and developing capacities and lessons learned to impact a variety of issues and areas.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Board of directors
as of 11/21/2016
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Rosemary Gibson

Senior Advisor, The Hastings Center

Term: 2016 -

Board co-chair

Ronald Gardhouse

Retired Group Chief Financial Officer, Detroit Electric, Inc.

Term: 2016 -

Karen Aldridge-Eason Foundation Liaison

Office of the Governor of the State of Michigan

Ronald Gardhouse Managing Director

Andersen Feldman LLC

Marvin McKinney Visiting Research Fellow

Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina;

Alonzo Plough Director

Emergency Preparedness and Response Program, Los Angeles County Public Health Department

Linc Smith President, CEO, and Trustee

Altarum Institute

Jerry Croan Consultant

Third Sector Capital Partners on Social Innovation Financing and Pay for Success Program

Guy Fish Vice President

Healthcare Practice Group, Fletcher Spaght

Jennie Chin Hansen Senior Strategic Advisor

American Geriatrics Society