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 finds more Americans are receiving addiction treatment, but race matters 

Donohue finds more Americans are receiving addiction treatment, but race matters

U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT - Opioid use disorder can be treated, just like any other disease, but treatment is most successful when the patient has regular, unimpeded access to trained clinicians who can not only treat the disorder, but also oversee the rest of their health care," said HPM Chair Ju... (07/23/2021)
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Drake: How To Improve Consumer Plan Selection in ACA Marketplaces 

Drake: How To Improve Consumer Plan Selection in ACA Marketplaces

HEALTH AFFAIRS  - There is currently an opportunity for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help consumers enroll in better Marketplace coverage in 2022. By adjusting how returning Marketplace enrollees are automatically re-enrolled in coverage, CMS can nudge more enrollees into plans... (07/23/2021)
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5 COVID-19 Takeaways. Roberts: Masks Work. Really.  

5 COVID-19 Takeaways. Roberts: Masks Work. Really.

DISCOVER MAGAZINE - Fierce debate raged in the pandemic's early months about whether wearing face masks curbed viral transmission. There was never much science that said masks didn't work, says HPM's Mark Roberts, director of the Public Health Dynamics Laboratory. Pre-2020 research already showed m... (06/22/2021)
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New research from Roberts shows Medicare and Medicaid fail Americans just above the poverty line 

New research from Roberts shows Medicare and Medicaid fail Americans just above the poverty line

ACADEMIC TIMES - Americans who receive Medicare but make slightly too much money to qualify for supplemental coverage from Medicaid spend thousands more dollars on out-of-pocket medical expenses while receiving fewer outpatient services and prescriptions than people covered by both programs, accord... (04/12/2021)
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Discarded drugs: a wasteful and costly problem that requires whole-of-government approaches 

Discarded drugs: a wasteful and costly problem that requires whole-of-government approaches

STAT FIRST OPINION —  HPM chair Julie Donohue and National Academies colleagues advocate for a “whole of government” approach to reforming the biopharmaceutical supply chain: Drug developers, manufacturers, clinicians, payers, and policymakers should focus on reducing system inefficiencies in drug ... (02/26/2021)
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Drake: Next year, extend open enrollment of the ACA Marketplaces into January 

Drake: Next year, extend open enrollment of the ACA Marketplaces into January

HEALTH AFFAIRS - HPM's Coleman Drake and Duke University colleague David Anderson say that by offering an extended open enrollment period, the Biden administration can remove a major administrative burden that often stands in the way of families obtaining health insurance.  (02/20/2021)
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Pitt study shows restaurant advertisements linked to weight gain 

Pitt study shows restaurant advertisements linked to weight gain

INSIDE LIFE CHANGING MEDICINE - HPM's Marian Jarlenski and fellow researchers looked at the medical records of patients with various socio-economic statuses and compared them to how much money fast food and casual dining chains spent on marketing per capita in the county where each of the patients ... (02/01/2021)
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Pitt researchers find Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansions led to earlier detection of cancer 

Pitt researchers find Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansions led to earlier detection of cancer

TRIB LIVE - Findings from a research team led by HPM's Coleman Drake provide evidence that expanding insurance coverage is a potential avenue to improve cancer outcomes. “It’s really about getting people into the normal health care system rather than presenting at the ED (emergency department) or s... (11/12/2020)
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