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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New hope for curing sepsis as researchers discover four strains - a breakthrough that could boost treatment options 

New hope for curing sepsis as researchers discover four strains - a breakthrough that could boost treatment options

UK DAILY MAIL - The findings published in JAMA could explain why several recent trials of treatments for sepsis - an immune response in which the body attacks its own organs - have failed. "The next step is to find therapies that apply to the scientific types of sepsis and then desing clinical tria... (06/03/2019)
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Donohue comments on potential medicaid implications of study that says more Americans are being treated for depression 

Donohue comments on potential medicaid implications of study that says more Americans are being treated for depression

PSYCHOLOGY TODAY - More Americans receive treatment for depression and pay less out of pocket than they did two decades ago, according to a recent study. "States that haven't expanded Medicaid could look at these estimates and think: There's a way to expand treatment of mental health conditions lik... (06/03/2019)
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Drake finds that rural counties that would most benefit from telemedicine lack broadband access 

Drake finds that rural counties that would most benefit from telemedicine lack broadband access

WESA - Telemedicine has the potential to connect people in rural communities to health care providers who might otherwise take hours to reach by car. But a new study by HPM's Coleman Drake finds that many of these places lack the infrastructure to actually make telemedicine possible.  (06/03/2019)
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As the U.S. measles count surpasses 25-year-old record, Roberts says: vaccinate 

As the U.S. measles count surpasses 25-year-old record, Roberts says: vaccinate

WDAM - U.S. health officials have reported 971 measles cases so far this year, the highest tally in 27 years, and experts say it's not clear when the wave of illnesses will stop. "What's causing these outbreaks is lack of vaccination," said HPM Chair Mark Roberts.  (05/31/2019)
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Angus’ Early Sepsis Indicator Receives 510(k) Clearance from FDA 

Angus’ Early Sepsis Indicator Receives 510(k) Clearance from FDA

MANAGED CARE - HPM's Derek Angus contributed to a first-of-its-kind, hematology-based cellular biomarker that is designed to help emergency department physicians identify patients with sepsis or who are at increased risk of developing sepsis. Compared to the traditional method of reviewing white bl... (04/23/2019)
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New measles outbreak simulator demonstrates the importance of vaccines 

New measles outbreak simulator demonstrates the importance of vaccines

WGCU NEWS - With measles outbreaks on the rise and vaccination rates falling in some places, HPM and PHDL's Mark Roberts discusses our latest simluator, FRED Measles Florida shows how quickly this preventable disease could spread if vaccination rates were to drop by 15%, highlighting the importance... (04/22/2019)
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Batra Hershey contributes to Biodefense Report 

Batra Hershey contributes to Biodefense Report

In a biodefense emergency - such as a terrorist attack using aerosolized plague - what are the needs of our country's 573 Tribal Nations? HPM"s TINA BATRA HERSHEY, assistant director for Law and Policy in the Center for Public Health Practice, recently contributed to a national report concluding th... (10/24/2018)
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Pitt wins federal grant to use big data and AI to help solve opioid epidemic 

Pitt wins federal grant to use big data and AI to help solve opioid epidemic

PITTSBURGH BUSINESS TIMES - Pitt Public Health has won a $1.2 million grant from the CDC to bring to bear its computer and algorithmic firepower on the nation's opioid epidemic. The two-year grant builds upon Pitt's modeling system called A Framework for Reconstructing Epidemiological Dynamics (FRE... (10/10/2018)
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