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Category Archives: I18

The Effects of Health IT Innovation on Throughput Efficiency in the Emergency Department

By Michael Levin  

Overcrowding in United States hospitals’ emergency departments (EDs) has been identified as a significant barrier to receiving high-quality emergency care, resulting from many EDs struggling to properly triage, diagnose, and treat emergency patients in a timely and effective manner. Priority is now being placed on research that explores the effectiveness of possible solutions, such as heightened adoption of IT to advance operational workflow and care services related to diagnostics and information accessibility, with the goal of improving what is called throughput efficiency. However, high costs of technological process innovation as well as usability challenges still impede wide-spanning and rapid implementation of these disruptive solutions. This paper will contribute to the pursuit of better understanding the value of adopting health IT (HIT) to improve ED throughput efficiency.

Using hospital visit data, I investigate two ways in which ED throughput activity changes due to increased HIT sophistication. First, I use a probit model to estimate any statistically and economically significant decreases in the probability of ED mortality resulting from greater HIT sophistication. Second, my analysis turns to workflow efficiency, using a negative binomial regression model to estimate the impact of HIT sophistication on reducing ED waiting room times. The results show a negative and statistically significant (p < 0.01) association between the presence of HIT and the probability of mortality in the ED. However, the marginal impact of an increase in sophistication from basic HIT functionality to advanced HIT functionality was not meaningful. Finally, I do not find a statistically significant impact of HIT sophistication on expected waiting room time. Together, these findings suggest that although technological progress is trending in the right direction to ultimately have a wide-sweeping impact on ED throughput, more progress must be made in order for HIT to directly move the needle on confronting healthcare’s greatest challenges.

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Advisors: Professor Ryan McDevitt, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: I1, I18, O33

The Impact of Medicare Nonpayment: A Quasi-Experimental Approach

By Audrey Kornkven   

In October 2008, a provision of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 known as Medicare “Nonpayment” went into effect, eliminating reimbursement for the marginal costs of  preventable hospital-acquired conditions in an effort to correct perverse incentives in hospitals and improve patient safety. This paper contributes to the existing debate surrounding Nonpayment’s efficacy by considering varying degrees of fiscal pressure among hospitals; potential impacts on healthcare utilization; and differences between Medicare and non-Medicare patient populations. It combines data on millions of hospital discharges in New York from 2006-2010 with hospital-, hospital referral region-, and county-level data to isolate the policy’s impact. Analysis exploits the quasi-experimental nature of Nonpayment via difference-in-differences with Mahalanobis matching and fuzzy regression discontinuity designs. In line with results from Lee et al. (2012), Schuller et al. (2013), and Vaz et al. (2015), this paper does not find evidence that Nonpayment reduced the likelihood that Medicare patients would develop a hospital-acquired condition, and concludes that the policy is not likely the success claimed by policymakers. Results also suggest that providers may select against unprofitable Medicare patients when possible, and are likely to vary in their responses to financial incentives. Specifically, private non-profit hospitals appear to have been most responsive to the policy. These findings have important implications for pay-for-performance initiatives in American healthcare.

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Advisors: Professor Charles Becker, Professor Frank Sloan, Professor Grace Kim| JEL Codes: I1, I13, I18

Assessing the Impacts of an Aging Population on Rising Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Expenditures within the United States

By Rahul Sharma 

This paper studies the impact of aging on rising healthcare and pharmaceutical expenditures in the United States with the goal of contextualizing the future burden of public health insurance on the government. Precedent literature has focused on international panels of multiple countries and hasn’t identified significant correlation between age and healthcare expenditures. This paper presents a novel approach of identifying this correlation by using a US sample population to determine if age impacts an individual’s consumption of healthcare services and goods. Results suggest that age has a significant impact on healthcare and pharmaceutical expenditures across private and public insurance.

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Advisors: Gilliam D. Saunders-Schmidler and Grace Kim | JEL Codes: H51, H53, I12, I13, I18, I38

The Effect of Competition on Strategic Discharge at Long-Term Acute-Care Hospitals

By Michael Karamardian

Because Medicare’s prospective payment system for long-term acute-care hospitals (LTCHs) makes a large lump-sum form of payment once patients reach a minimum length-ofstay threshold, LTCHs have a unique opportunity to maximize profits by strategically discharging patients as soon as the payment is received. This analysis explores how the level of competition between LTCHs in geographic markets affects the probability of a patient being strategically discharged. The results show that patients at LTCHs in more competitive markets have a lower probability of being strategically discharged than at those in less competitive markets, suggesting increased competition could help save Medicare funding.

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Advisors: Kent Kimbrough and James Roberts | JEL Codes: D22, I11, I18

Medicare’s Prospective Payment System: Do Differences in the Reimbursement Rate Affect Quantity of Care Delivered and Hospital Billing Practices?

By Russell Hollis

When the government changes Medicare policy, payment structures often accommodate the change through lowering reimbursement rates. Changes in reimbursements raise the question of what effect changes have on patient care. Using data sets from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, I examine the diagnosis of major replacement or reattachment of the lower extremity and how the length of stay for patients responds to changing reimbursement rates. I extend my investigation of price incentives to monitor fraudulent coding by hospitals. In a sample of over 470,000 patients in 2,696 hospitals for fiscal year 2012, I find that a 1% increase in reimbursement leads to a .007% increase in length of stay for DRG 470 (without complications) patients and a .057% percent increase for DRG 469 (with complications) patients. I then find that a 10% decrease in reimbursement for DRG 470 or one percent increase for DRG 469 leads to a .0011 increase in fraction of DRG 469 patients in a particular hospital. Lastly, I comment on these results, which point to the evidence of price incentives in quantity of care an the possibility of “upcoding”1.

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Advisor: Allan Collard-Wexler | JEL Codes: H50, H51, I11, I13, I18 | Tagged: Diagnosis Related Group, Length of Stay, Medicare, Reimbursement, “Upcoding”

Understanding Financial Incentive Health Initiatives: The Impact of the Janani Suraksha Yojana Conditional Cash Transfer Program on Institutional Delivery Rates and Out-of- Pocket Health Expenditure

By Ritika Jain

Demand-side financing is a policy tool used by nations to incentivize utilization of public institutions, and India’s Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) is one of the largest such financial incentive programs in the world. The program pays eligible pregnant women to deliver their babies in health institutions partnered with the program. This paper studies the impact of the JSY on changes in mothers’ health-seeking behavior to deliver in-facility and on the out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE) for delivery that they incur. Using data from the most recent wave of India’s District-Level Household Survey conducted in 2007-08, this paper finds that the overall introduction of the program in districts in India does not lead to significant changes in institutional delivery or out-ofpocket expenditure outcomes. Further analysis of subpopulations shows that marginalized populations are responsive to JSY introduction in their district with increased probability of delivering in-facility of 1.10 – 3.40 percentage points. Lastly, results show that receiving JSY payments leads to a 1.34 percentage point increase in the probability of incurring OOPE, but a 4.81 percent decrease in the amount of OOPE incurred. The JSY is helping to reduce overall out-of-pocket spending on deliveries. However, the majority of program benefits are not reaching poor pregnant women as the JSY aims, communicating the need for improvement in population targeting.

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Advisor: Alison Hagy, Kent Kimbrough, Manoj Mohanan | JEL Codes: C22, I12, I18 | Tagged: Conditional Cash Transfer, Demand-side Financing, Difference-in-difference-in-differences, Difference-in-differences, Healthcare Reform, Maternal Health

Has Tort Reform Been Effective in Abating the Medical Malpractice Crisis? An Empirical Analysis from 1991-2012

By Raj Singh

This paper evaluates the impact of malpractice reforms on average malpractice payment awards, frequency of malpractice claims, and malpractice premiums for internists, surgeons, and OB/GYNS. We also empirically test the physician-induced demand (PID) hypothesis in the context of the medical malpractice environment. Our results suggest that caps on noneconomic damages and total damages as well as patient compensation funds are successful in reducing average payments, while damage caps and collateral source rule reform were found to lower malpractice claim incidence. When grouping claims by severity level, we find that noneconomic damage caps and patient compensation funds are more effective at reducing average payment with increasing severity level, while total damage caps induce the greatest reductions in payments for cases of medium severity. Also, non-economic damage caps were found to only significantly decrease the incidence of medium severity claims. With regards to malpractice premiums, we found that implementation of total damage caps as well as modification of joint-and-several liability were associated with lower premiums for all specialists. Finally, we evaluate the notion of ‘defensive medicine’ by studying whether higher malpractice premiums result in greater Medicare payments. Based on our model, increases of $10,000 in OB/GYN premiums are estimated to result in a 0.81% rise in total spending. Of the reforms studied, modification of joint-and-several liability had the most significant and consistent effects in reducing Medicare reimbursements for all categories of spending analyzed, and total damage caps were also estimated to effectively slow the growth of spending in specifications without premiums.

Honors Thesis

Data Set 1

Data Set 2

Advisor: Tracy Falba | JEL Codes: I1, I18, I19 | Tagged: Defensive Medicine, Medical Malpractice, Tort Reform

Marijuana Pricing Structure and State-Level Price Determinants

By Rebecca Li

This study uses the PriceofWeed.com data set first examined in Thies (2012) to analyze the price-quantity relationship for marijuana transactions and to determine the effect of various state-level factors on marijuana prices. By applying the cost-based full fixed cost recovery pricing model developed by Britney, Kuzdrall, and Fartuch (1983), this paper finds support for an inverse price-quantity relationship for marijuana rather than a logarithmic or linear relationship. User-rated quality is robust and significant across all models, and price-quantity discount elasticity of -0.220 is observed empirically. An analysis of state-level legal, demand-side, and supply-side determinants of marijuana price demonstrates that medical marijuana has a negative relationship with price, perhaps due to the reduction in risk faced by suppliers when medical marijuana is legalized.

Honor’s Thesis

Data Set

Advisor: Michael Munger, Phil Cook | JEL Codes: D04, I18, K42 | Tagged: Marijuana, Price, Quality, Transaction Size

Trauma Center Eficacy: Certification Status and its Effect on Traffic Fatalities at Varying Radii

By Robert Van Dusen

The goal of the paper is to better inform policy makers on the optimal placement of trauma center facilities. Below, I examine the effect of Californian trauma centers vs. standard emergency departments on traffic fatalities for 2002 to 2008. Hospital addresses are geocoded and compared to the geographic coordinates of fatal car accidents provided through USDOT in order to create a dependent fatality density variable for every hospital at different radii. Demographic controls for different radii are constructed using ArcGIS
to serve as a model for traffic fatalities.

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Advisor: Frank Sloan, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: I1, I10, I18 | Tagged: Healthcare,
Trauma, Trauma Center

Incentives and Characteristics that Explain Generic Prescribing Practices

By Rahul Nayak

This study uses the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (2006-2010) and Health Tracking Physician Survey (2008) to study the incentives and characteristics that explain physician generic prescribing habits. The findings can be characterized into four main categories: (1) financial/economic, (2) informational, (3) patient- dependent and (4) drug idiosyncratic effects. Physicians in practices owned by HMOs or practices that had at least one managed care contract are significantly more likely to prescribe generic medicines. Furthermore, physicians who have drug industry influence are less likely to prescribe generic medicines. This study also finds consistent evidence that generic prescribing is reduced for patients with pri- vate insurance compared to self-pay patients. Drug-specific characteristics play an important role for whether a drug is prescribed as a generic or brand-name – in- cluding not only market characteristics, such as monopoly duration length, public familiarity with the generic and the quality of the generic, but also non-clinical drug characteristics, such as the length of the generic name compared the length of the brand-name. In particular, the public’s familiarity with the generic has a large effect on the generic prescribing rate for a given drug. There are few differences between the generic prescribing habits of primary care physicians and specialists after controlling for the drugs prescribed.

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Advisor: Frank Sloan | JEL Codes: D82, D83, I11, I13, I18 | Tagged: Drug Market Charac- teristics, Efficient Prescribing, Electronic Prescribing, Generic Prescribing, HTPS, Industry Influence, NAMCS, Patient Preferences, Physician Incentives, Principle- Agent Problem

Questions?

Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker
dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu