Faculty Research

The faculty of the Department of Health Policy and Management (HPM) conducts research across a wide range of current health policy issues. Ours is a methodologically diverse department, and our research includes the application of rigorous analytic methods to evaluate specific health policy questions as well as the methods themselves. Our faculty members are engaged in multiple research areas, including...

  • pharmaceutical policy
  • financing Medicare and Medicaid
  • long-term care
  • organ donation and allocation
  • technology assessment
  • mathematical modeling and simulation

The following are profiles of standout funded faculty research in these areas.

Pharmaceutical Policy

HPM has substantial expertise in the analysis of large administrative and claims databases for the evaluation of the impact of various health policies. With the advent of Medicare Part D and health care reform, there is substantial interest in understanding the impact of medication reimbursement policies on health care spending and outcomes. Using Medicare claims data, Professor Julie Donohue found that a substantial amount of the variation in Part D spending arises from the regional differences in price rather than from different amount of prescription use.

Financing Medicare and Medicaid

The recent expansion of Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act prompted the Pennsylvania legislature to contract with the RAND Corporation and Julie Donohue to predict the economic and coverage impact of Medicaid expansion in Pennsylvania, which would expand Medicaid roles by 350,000 people and bring nearly $2 billion in federal revenue to Pennsylvania.

Long-Term Care

HPM has a longstanding interest in the measurement of and improvement in the quality of long-term care. HPM faculty and colleagues at RAND are engaged in several projects, including examining staff turnover in long-term care settings (including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and elderly high rises), use of the federal report card Nursing Home Compare, levels of job satisfaction among nursing home administrators, closure of nursing homes, staff injuries, and responses to disasters. Prior research has investigated how institutional factors can affect the outcomes of nursing home residents with mental illnesses, use of medications, and mortality rates of nursing home residents with mental illnesses. Studies through the department over the past 15 years have surveyed by mail more than 20,000 long-term care facilities; 15,000 family members of residents; and 30,000 nurse aides. The most recent survey conducted for the National Institute for Justice examined resident abuse in assisted living facilities.

Organ Donation and Allocation

Our department is conducting several research projects related to organ allocation and donation. Associate Professor Howard Degenholz conducts research aimed at improving organ donation in the United States, including through the Department of Motor Vehicles, as well as the development of an online video game designed to teach players the importance of organ donation in a successful transplantation program. Professor Mark Roberts and Associate Professor Cindy Bryce have long-standing work related to modeling the U.S. organ allocation system to evaluate different prioritization and allocation policies. Currently they are evaluating the impact of various strategies in the care of patients with pediatric acute liver failure.

Technology Assessment

HPM is conducting projects involving the evaluation of new health care technologies. For example, Assistant Professor Julia Driessen is evaluating the impact on costs in clinical outcomes of the implementation of simple, open-source electronic health records in resource-poor environments in Africa.

MATHEMATICAL MODELING AND SIMULATION

In collaboration with the Swanson School of Engineering Department of Industrial Engineering, the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory and multiple investigators in other institutions, Mark Roberts is conducting research in the use of complex mathematical methods and the use of clinically realistic agent-based models to examine health policy decisions involving HIV, hepatitis C, and other diseases.

HPM Faculty Research News

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Donohue paper reviews pros and cons of marketing pharmaceuticals directly to consumers 

Donohue paper reviews pros and cons of marketing pharmaceuticals directly to consumers

HPM’s Julie Donohue weighs in on how marketing pharmaceuticals directly to consumers isn’t new.  In the paper “A History of Drug Advertising”, Donohue outlines the case for and against these advertisements. Proponents tout patient and consumer rights to make informed decisions, while bioethicists a... (10/01/2019)
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Drake: there appears to be a major loophole in background checks for private, online gun sales 

Drake: there appears to be a major loophole in background checks for private, online gun sales

STAR TRIBUNE - Fewer than 10% of sellers appear to require a background check. “We tried to search each listing for evidence suggesting the seller would need a background check," said HPM's Coleman Drake. "The results indicate that this is a potentially large loophole on private sales. The policy i... (09/23/2019)
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Health savings accounts linked to care access in cancer survivors; Sabik looks to understanding impacts for specific populations 

Health savings accounts linked to care access in cancer survivors; Sabik looks to understanding impacts for specific populations

CANCERNETWORK - “This was an important study because of the increasing role of high-deductible health plans in our insurance system,” said HPM's Lindsay Sabik. “As [high-deductible health plans] become more widespread, understanding their impacts for different patient populations will be important.... (09/23/2019)
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Gellad comments: Four health care questions every 2020 Democratic candidate should answer 

Gellad comments: Four health care questions every 2020 Democratic candidate should answer

VOX - If overhauling the U.S. health care system isn’t on the table in January 2021, drug prices, the opioid crisis, hospital spending, and long-term care are all deeply important problems that a Democratic president will need to turn their attention to if he or she wins. “If [Medicare-for-all] is ... (09/16/2019)
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Kahn finds hospital choice could affect pediatric mortality during emergencies 

Kahn finds hospital choice could affect pediatric mortality during emergencies

HEALIO - A child’s chance of survival in an emergency may depend on the hospital where they receive care. Researchers assessed the pediatric readiness of EDs in five states and found that hospitals with the highest scores had lower mortality rates. “For some time, we’ve known that hospitals vary wi... (08/26/2019)
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Rural Pennsylvanians Have Nearby Access to Opioid Treatment, but Still Travel Far to Receive it 

Rural Pennsylvanians Have Nearby Access to Opioid Treatment, but Still Travel Far to Receive it

INSIDE UPMC - Rural Pennsylvania Medicaid enrollees diagnosed with opioid use disorder are driving an average of four times as far as their nearest prescriber to receive medication-assisted treatment, according to an analysis led by HPM's Evan Cole. The study, published in the  Journal of General I... (08/10/2019)
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Kahn finds regulations that mandate sepsis care appear to have worked in New York 

Kahn finds regulations that mandate sepsis care appear to have worked in New York

NPR - A New York regulation that dictates how doctors treat sepsis appears to be paying off, according to a study in JAMA. Amidst concerns about an unorthodox requirement of a specific set of practices that a doctor might otherwise deviate from based on the patient, HPM's Jeremy Kahn found that the... (07/23/2019)
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Inpatient opioids influence at-home use, Donohue reports 

Inpatient opioids influence at-home use, Donohue reports

MEDPAGE TODAY - Patients given opioids during their hospital stay were more likely to continue using them post-discharge. Compared with patients who were not prescribed opioids, those who did get a prescription were also twice as likely to continue using them in outpatient settings three months out... (06/24/2019)
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