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

image

FRED modeling platform predicts high COVID-19 hospitalizations 

FRED modeling platform predicts high COVID-19 hospitalizations

PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE - FRED offers frightening predictions about what Pennsylvania residents could face with COVID-19. “These are very scary numbers, and one thing I hope to impress upon people is that this is serious,” said Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Lab and chair of h... (03/26/2020)
image

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

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

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 l... (03/04/2020)
image

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

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

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... (03/03/2020)
image

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

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

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 ... (02/27/2020)
image

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

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

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 investi... (02/26/2020)
image

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

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

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 ar... (01/07/2020)
image

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)
image

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)
View more HPM news