Health Systems, Management & Policy
Influencing policy through research in health economics
A professor will always remember when his or her research influences policy and makes an impact on America’s health. For Dr. Richard Lindrooth, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy, improving patient safety and quality of hospital care begins with research in health economics.
“Economics provides a powerful set of tools that can be used to inform decisions about how best to allocate scarce resources to achieve the best possible societal outcomes,” says Dr. Lindrooth.
“Government intervention in health care delivery is much more pervasive than in other markets and this makes health economics both an interesting area of research and an area where research can be used to improve policy”
Currently, Dr. Lindrooth has three research projects designed to better understand how to improve patient safety and the quality of hospital care. The first project is focusing on the role of public reporting in accelerating the adoption of practices that are designed to improve patient safety.
Dr. Lindrooth’s second project is focusing on how management practices affect the adoption of innovations and the quality of cardiac care. Last, he is examining trends in the generosity of Medicare reimbursement over the past 15 years and is assessing how generosity of payment affects quality of care.
“These projects will help us better understand how policy can be formulated to encourage better patient safety,” explains Dr. Lindrooth. “This research should also be useful to health care administrators looking for ways to improve management practices in order to achieve better financial and patient outcomes.”
Today state governments are struggling to decide where to target limited health care resources. Through Dr. Lindrooth’s research on how state policies affect access to care and outcomes for persons with mental illness, he is able to provide valuable information on where funds should go to achieve better outcomes. For example, his past research on the effects of Medicaid Family Planning expansions was used by state governments to evaluate the costs and benefits of expansions and renewal decisions.
Nonetheless, making an impact does not stop at his research projects. Through Dr. Lindrooth’s classes in the Department of Health Systems, Management and Policy, he is positioning students to become leaders in health care delivery settings and public health policy.
In the program, students learn to apply theory, analytic and decision-making tools to a variety of real-world settings. Dr. Lindrooth strives to make course content applicable to a student's career, while focusing on material that cannot be easily learned through 'on-the-job' experiences.
“I hope students leave the class with a different perspective and enhanced ability to reach their professional goals,” Dr. Lindrooth says. “I make extensive use of cases designed to give students a set of tools to approach a particular issue. My goal is not to provide students with a right or wrong answer; rather it is to enable students to determine the best course of action when faced with a seemingly ambiguous set of alternatives.”
Upon graduating with a Master of Public Health in Health Systems, Management and Policy, Dr. Lindrooth says students are able to understand and assess the ethical, financial, strategic and practical implications of important decisions, making them better able to improve public health and health care delivery. It is key to learn how to make the best possible use of scarce resources so that all patients are positively impacted.