HPM Faculty News

Should schools close during a coronavirus outbreak? The answer isn’t obvious

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BALTIMORE SUN - Pitt researchers used data from the 2009 H1N1 outbreak to model how long schools should close in the case of a pandemic. “What we found was the optimal timing is 8 weeks from a disease transmission” standpoint, said HPM's Tina Batra Hershey, JD, MPH. Opening schools too soon might leave students vulnerable to infection. The same model might not follow for this outbreak, she warned, and it should be left to local school systems. ... 

Gellad finds U.S. drug prices have risen three times faster than inflation

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U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - "Net prices are not necessarily what patients pay," said senior author Walid Gellad, HPM faculty and director of the CP3. "A lot of the discount is not going to the patient. We're seeing a lot of discussion that net prices have stabilized over the last few years, and that does appear to be the case. But the stabilization of net price comes on top of large increases over the last decade, many times faster than inflation... 

Multistate investigation of Juul could mean a settlement sooner than later, experts say

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PGH POST-GAZETTE - An investigation agreement by 39 states into Juul, the company blamed for the teenage vaping epidemic, has ramped up pressure to reach a global settlement. “I think at this point we’re at that stage in this process that there is enough feeling that this goes across party lines and is a national problem,” comments HPM's Tina Batra Hershey. Kar-Hai Chu studies social media’s role in the popularity of vaping among teenagers and... 

Roberts and Hoffman featured in Hulu documentary on anti-vaccine movement

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HULU - Available now on the streaming service, Vice Investigates “Anti-Vaxx Fever” explores the growing anti-vaccine movement. The documentary features in-depth looks at the varied work of professor Mark Roberts and of student Beth Hoffman (BCHS ’19 ’23). Each uses system science methods to investigate the dangers of this movement, generating compelling images that are powerful tools for communicating science to the public.  

Angus on the evaluation of machine learning in medical practice

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MEDPAGE TODAY – The chair of Pitt Med’s Department of Critical Care Medicine, Derek Angus (BCHS '92), sees the need for more evaluation of machine learning in medical practice. Just as computer scientists wrestle with the curse of dimensionality when generating an AI algorithm, clinical investigators wrestle similarly when evaluating the utility of the algorithm. Such evaluation could overwhelm standard RCT designs.  

Braund coauthors American Heart Association's Call to Action on Rural Health

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With this advisory, the American Heart Association is calling for a sustained commitment of health care and other stakeholders at the local, state, and national levels to work together to improve rural health. HPM's Wendy Braund was among the authors stating, "understanding and addressing the unique health needs of people residing in rural America is critical to the American Heart Association's commitment to health equity and its focus on social... 

Gellad concerned that delayed generics increase surprise medical bills

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AXIOS – Big pharma is often successful in securing additional years of monopoly pricing, creating a higher baseline price for when generics finally come out. "Every year that goes by when a generic is delayed is another 6+ percent increase in the price the generic will cost when it finally hits the market," tweeted HPM’s Walid Gellad last week.  

Jarlenski confirms inconsistencies in enforcement of ACA birth control coverage

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VICE - The most recent research found that insurance was inconsistent in guaranteeing full coverage of birth control options. “This is an ongoing issue,” said HPM’s Marian Jarlenski, who researches maternal and child health. “You may be hit by a surprise bill; you may just decide to pay out-of-pocket, not knowing there might be an appeals process; or you could go to a different clinic.”  

Sabik finds Massachusetts’ health reforms helped catch more cancers early

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U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT - “Our study is the first to present evidence that Massachusetts' health reform may be associated with a shift to earlier-stage diagnosis for a cancer that has a high cure rate when caught early,” said HPM's Lindsay Sabik. “We expect that early cancer diagnosis will likely be one of the major success stories of national health insurance reform.”  

James study on how a ‘care system’ must change to adequately support caregivers

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In a March 2018 Journal of Palliative Medicine article addressing improvements for dementia and senior caregiving, Everette James, interim dean and director of the Health Policy Institute, and other researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the RAND Corp. stated that “fundamental changes are needed in the way we identify, assess, and support caregivers. Educational and workforce development reforms are needed to enhance the competencies ... 

Gellad on how availability of biosimilars may impact drug pricing

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MANAGED HEALTHCARE EXECUTIVE –  With prices estimated to be 15-16% lower than originator products, biosimilars hold promise for reducing spending, but it is unclear how list prices, discounts, and net prices for the originator products change with such competition. HPM’s Walid Gellad is co-author on this JAMA Network Open publication. Results show that some prices increased annually by up to 6.1% until the introduction of a biosimilar after whic... 

Drake finds rural-urban flip in health insurance premiums

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UPMC - People in rural areas of the U.S. who receive subsidies to buy health insurance pay less in premiums than their counterparts in urban areas, a flip that occurred in 2018 and has been widening since. “There’s this narrative that, until recently, was correct: Rural populations did not enjoy the same improved health plan affordability under the ACA as people living in cities, now we’re finding that, at least for subsidized enrollees, that’s ... 

Drake on health care policy and the challenge of inertia

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PASADENA STAR NEWS - HPM's Coleman Drake tells us it's an exciting year for the Affordable Care Act marketplace. More generous subsidies are available, overall premiums are only increasing slightly, and some insurers are expanding into new markets. But more research is needed for us to understand why some enrollees are not benefiting from the competitive market. Known to economists as inertia, this phenomenon occurs when health plan enrollees st... 

Jarlenski receives 2019 John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators

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Congratulations to Marian Jarlenski for being named the recipient of the 2019 John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators. Jarlenski was presented with this award at the AUPHA Annual Meeting in New Orleans in June. This award is used to recognize young faculty who have received their PhD within the past six years for their contributions to the research literature in the field of health services.   

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