The Stern Center conducts evidence-based policy research to accomplish six primary goals:

  • Prioritizing research on emerging issues affecting providers, payers, and consumers of healthcare in the United States and opportunities for evidence-based interventions;
  • Identifying evidence-based policy interventions that address timely issues in ways that effectively improve the cost and quality of healthcare;
  • Interrogating the existing research evidence through policy scans, regulatory analysis, systematic reviews and metaanalysis;
  • Piloting cutting-edge interventions and original data collection that are likely to reduce healthcare utilization costs and improve health outcomes;
  • Modeling the economic and health effects of evidence-based policy proposals; and
  • Disseminating evidence-based analyses and policy recommendations to a broad range of stakeholders.
E-Cigarette State of the Science Symposium

E-cigarettes have been a hot topic lately, but the bottom line may seem unclear.  How safe are they?  Can they help smokers quit?  Why is the FDA concerned?  How do they impact youth?  Local experts from Pitt, UPMC, Children’s Hospital, and RAND discuss the current scientific evidence of e-cigarettes’ benefits and harms from a variety of perspectives and weigh in on implications for public health policy. Read more

Policies to Promote Effective Use of Preoperative Breast MRI

The use of breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has increased substantially in recent years; however, limited professional guidance exists for its use. Read more

Aligning Policy Incentives to Advance Palliative Care in Nursing Homes

This study is exploring the costs and potential cost savings for palliative care in the nursing home setting, the conflicting reimbursement incentives between payors, and a simulation of potential cost savings for palliative care. Read more

Healthy Caregiver Study

This two-phase study will assess the feasibility of identifying caregivers within UPMC Health Plan and linking them to care recipients also enrolled in the plan and then deliver a support intervention with the aim of reducing health care utilization costs for caregivers and/or care recipients. Read more

The Economic and Clinical Impact of Hepatitis C Treatment on Pennsylvania Medicaid

Using predictive computer modeling, researchers are analyzing the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection by stage of disease in Pennsylvania, specifically among the Pennsylvania Medicaid population, and estimates the potential budget impact of various treatment strategies for HCV in the identified population.  Read more

Addressing the Health Needs of an Aging America: New Opportunities for Evidence-Based Policy Solutions
Sally Morton, PhD,
William Dunn, PhD

Researchers at the Stern Center have systematically mapped the landscape of research evidence and policy recommendations to locate immediate opportunities for evidence-based policy to address the changing health needs of the aging U.S. population. Read more

Leveraging Social Media to Understand and Change Policy Around Emerging forms of Tobacco Use

This pilot project aims to leverage social media to examine changing and emerging forms of tobacco use in order to support the policy and intervention activities of the Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control (DTPC) within the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Read more

Addressing the Needs of Caregivers at Risk: A New Policy Strategy

Researchers at the Stern Center surveyed the current landscape of federal and state policies to address economic and health risks faced by lay caregivers who play an increasingly critical role in sustaining the health of millions of aging Americans. Read more

Improving Telemedicine Policy in Pediatric Emergency Care

This study is examining the role of emergency telemedicine in the pediatric emergency care system using semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders and quantitative data analysis to examine the potential clinical and financial impact of emergency telemedicine from both the societal and payer perspectives.  Read more

Reducing Geographic Variation in Medicaid Spending

Using Pennsylvania Medicaid pharmacy and medical claims along with information on the prescribing physicians, this project analyses geographic variation in total drug spending and spending for antipsychotics and diabetes medications. Read more

Risk Factors for Hospitalization among Aged Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Users

This study is examining the rate of hospitalization among aged Medicaid HCBS waiver clients and identifying factors associated with hospital readmissions.  Read more

Hospital-based Community Benefit Programs: A Review of Recently Published Literature

Not-for-profit hospitals, as part of their tax exempt status, are required to submit descriptions and financial information about their community benefit activities to the IRS. Drs. Steve Albert and Jessica Burke are analyzing hospital community benefit programs to define an approach to the establishment of evidence-based community programs that support compliance with IRS guidelines. Read more

Study of Pennsylvania Laws for the Protection of Groundwater from Health Hazards in Processes Related to Natural Gas Extraction

Pennsylvania residents and policymakers want to ensure that the quality and availability of drinking water is not negatively impacted by Marcellus Shale gas drilling. Maggie Potter, JD and Dr. Elizabeth Bjerke are reviewing the relevant statutes and regulations to determine whether current PA law protects groundwater aquifers during natural gas extraction and its potential risks to human health. Read more

Understanding Barriers to Access and Effective Use of Patient Portals to Promote Engagement of Older Adults in Their Health Care

The goal of this study is to gather evidence that will inform improvements in access and effective use of patient portals among older adults, and policies that drive the criteria and incentives for meaningful use (MU) of the electronic health records (EHR) and patient portals. Read more