Brian Elbel

Brian Elbel
Associate Professor of Population Health and Health Policy (NYU School of Medicine)

Brian Elbel, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Population Health and Health Policy at the NYU School of Medicine, where he heads the Section on Health Choice, Policy and Evaluation within the Department of Population Health, and the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he is the Director of the Doctoral Program.

Dr. Elbel studies how individuals make decisions that influence their health and healthcare, with a particular emphasis on evaluation, obesity and food choice. His work uses behavioral economics to understand health and healthcare decision-making among vulnerable groups, and the role and influence of public policy on these decisions. Current research includes how to use behavioral economics to influence physicians’ prescribing practices; the impact of public policies mandating calorie labeling in restaurants; influence of NYC’s policy limiting the size of sugar sweetened beverages at food service establishments; and the impact of policies supporting the development of supermarkets in high need areas; the role of the built environment on childhood BMI; among others.

He directs the CDC-funded NYU Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN), which examines several initiatives intended to improve healthy eating and drinking in New York City. His research has been funded by, among others, the National Institutes of Health, the CDC and multiple foundations.  His work has been featured in numerous national television, radio, and print media outlets. Dr. Elbel has a B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin and an MPH and PhD in Health Policy/Health Economics from Yale University

Semester Course
Spring 2010 HPAM-GP.1832.001 Health Economics and Payment Systems
This course examines the health care system through the lens of microeconomics. In this course we will take the concepts and theories you learned in microeconomics and apply them to health and health care. The goal is to understand what a “market-based approach” to health care means in the US health care system, how well it currently working or could work, and what the alternative approaches might entail. To tackle this task, in addition to microeconomic theory we will utilize a number of classic and recent empirical papers. It is expected that you will become better equipped to understand and critique such papers over the course of the semester. In particular, the course focuses on how risk and uncertainty, industrial organization, payment systems, and public policy affect incentives, health outcomes, and the economic environment of the health care sector.
Download Syllabus
Spring 2009 HPAM-GP.1832.001 Health Economics and Payment Systems
This course examines the health care system through the lens of microeconomics. In this course we will take the concepts and theories you learned in microeconomics and apply them to health and health care. The goal is to understand what a “market-based approach” to health care means in the US health care system, how well it currently working or could work, and what the alternative approaches might entail. To tackle this task, in addition to microeconomic theory we will utilize a number of classic and recent empirical papers. It is expected that you will become better equipped to understand and critique such papers over the course of the semester. In particular, the course focuses on how risk and uncertainty, industrial organization, payment systems, and public policy affect incentives, health outcomes, and the economic environment of the health care sector.
Download Syllabus
Spring 2008 HPAM-GP.1832. Health Economics and Payment Systems
This course examines the health care system through the lens of microeconomics. In this course we will take the concepts and theories you learned in microeconomics and apply them to health and health care. The goal is to understand what a “market-based approach” to health care means in the US health care system, how well it currently working or could work, and what the alternative approaches might entail. To tackle this task, in addition to microeconomic theory we will utilize a number of classic and recent empirical papers. It is expected that you will become better equipped to understand and critique such papers over the course of the semester. In particular, the course focuses on how risk and uncertainty, industrial organization, payment systems, and public policy affect incentives, health outcomes, and the economic environment of the health care sector.
Download Syllabus
Date Publication/Paper
2014

Elbel B, Taksler G, Mijanovich T, Abrams C, Dixon LB 2014. Promotion of Healthy Eating through Public Policy: A Controlled Experiment American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2013; 45(1): 49-55. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2013.02.023
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Abstract

Background
To induce consumers to purchase healthier foods and beverages, some policymakers have suggested special taxes or labels on unhealthy products. The potential of such policies is unknown.

Purpose
In a controlled field experiment, researchers tested whether consumers were more likely to purchase healthy products under such policies.

Methods
From October to December 2011, researchers opened a store at a large hospital that sold a variety of healthier and less-healthy foods and beverages. Purchases (N=3680) were analyzed under five conditions: a baseline with no special labeling or taxation, a 30% tax, highlighting the phrase “less healthy” on the price tag, and combinations of taxation and labeling. Purchases were analyzed in January–July 2012, at the single-item and transaction levels.

Results
There was no significant difference between the various taxation conditions. Consumers were 11 percentage points more likely to purchase a healthier item under a 30% tax (95% CI=7%, 16%, p<0.001) and 6 percentage points more likely under labeling (95% CI=0%, 12%, p=0.04). By product type, consumers switched away from the purchase of less-healthy food under taxation (9 percentage point decrease, p<0.001) and into healthier beverages (6 percentage point increase, p=0.001); there were no effects for labeling. Conditions were associated with the purchase of 11–14 fewer calories (9%–11% in relative terms) and 2 fewer grams of sugar. Results remained significant controlling for all items purchased in a single transaction.

Conclusions
Taxation may induce consumers to purchase healthier foods and beverages. However, it is unclear whether the 15%–20% tax rates proposed in public policy discussions would be more effective than labeling products as less healthy.

2013

Elbel, B., Mijanovich, T., Dixon, L. B., Abrams, C., Weitzman, B., Kersh, R., Auchincloss, A. H. and Ogedegbe, G. 2013. Calorie Labeling, Fast Food Purchasing and Restaurant Visits Obesity, 21: 2172–2179. doi: 10.1002/oby.20550
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Abstract

Objective
Obesity is a pressing public health problem without proven population-wide solutions. Researchers sought to determine whether a city-mandated policy requiring calorie labeling at fast food restaurants was associated with consumer awareness of labels, calories purchased and fast food restaurant visits.

Design and Methods
Difference-in-differences design, with data collected from consumers outside fast food restaurants and via a random digit dial telephone survey, before (December 2009) and after (June 2010) labeling in Philadelphia (which implemented mandatory labeling) and Baltimore (matched comparison city). Measures included: self-reported use of calorie information, calories purchased determined via fast food receipts, and self-reported weekly fast-food visits.

Results
The consumer sample was predominantly Black (71%), and high school educated (62%). Postlabeling, 38% of Philadelphia consumers noticed the calorie labels for a 33% point (P < 0.001) increase relative to Baltimore. Calories purchased and number of fast food visits did not change in either city over time.

Conclusions
While some consumers report noticing and using calorie information, no population level changes were noted in calories purchased or fast food visits. Other controlled studies are needed to examine the longer term impact of labeling as it becomes national law.

Rogers E, Fernandez S, Gillespie C, Smelson D, Hagedorn HJ, Elbel B, Kalman D, Axtmayer A, Pradhan K, Sherman SE 2013. Telephone care coordination for smokers in VA Mental Health clinics: a hybrid implementation and clinical effectiveness trial Addiction Science and Clinical Practice. 2013; 8:7. doi:10.1186/1940-0640-8-7
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Abstract

Background
This paper describes an innovative protocol for a type-II hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial that is evaluating a smoking cessation telephone care coordination program for Veterans Health Administration (VA) mental-health clinic patients. As a hybrid trial, the protocol combines implementation science and clinical trial methods and outcomes that can inform future cessation studies and the implementation of tobacco cessation programs into routine care. The primary objectives of the trial are (1) to evaluate the process of adapting, implementing, and sustaining a smoking cessation telephone care coordination program in VA mental health clinics, (2) to determine the effectiveness of the program in promoting long-term abstinence from smoking among mental health patients, and (3) to compare the effectiveness of telephone counseling delivered by VA staff with that delivered by state quitlines.

Methods/design
The care coordination program is being implemented at six VA facilities. VA mental health providers refer patients to the program via an electronic medical record consult. Program staff call referred patients to offer enrollment. All patients who enroll receive a self-help booklet, mailed smoking cessation medications, and proactive multi-call telephone counseling. Participants are randomized to receive this counseling from VA staff or their state’s quitline. Four primary implementation strategies are being used to optimize program implementation and sustainability: blended facilitation, provider training, informatics support, and provider feedback. A three-phase formative evaluation is being conducted to identify barriers to, and facilitators for, program implementation and sustainability. A mixed-methods approach is being used to collect quantitative clinical effectiveness data (e.g., self-reported abstinence at six months) and both quantitative and qualitative implementation data (e.g., provider referral rates, coded interviews with providers). Summative data will be analyzed using the Reach Effectiveness Adoption Implementation Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework.

Discussion
This paper describes the rationale and methods of a trial designed to simultaneously study the clinical effectiveness and implementation of a telephone smoking cessation program for smokers using VA mental health clinics. Such hybrid designs are an important methodological design that can shorten the time between the development of an intervention and its translation into routine clinical care.

Jennifer Schindler, Kamila Kiszko, Courtney Abrams, Nadia Islam, Brian Elbel 2013. Environmental and individual factors affecting menu labeling utilization: a qualitative research study Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013 May;113(5):667-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2012.11.011. Epub 2013 Feb 9.
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Abstract

Obesity is a prominent public health concern that disproportionally affects low-income and minority populations. Recent policies mandating the posting of calories on menus in fast-food chain restaurants have not proven to uniformly influence food choice. This qualitative research study used focus groups to study individual and environmental factors affecting the use of these menu labels among low-income minority populations. Ten focus groups targeting low-income residents (n=105) were held at various community organizations throughout New York City over a 9-month period in 2011. The focus groups were conducted in Spanish, English, or a combination of both languages. In late 2011 and early 2012, transcripts were coded through the process of thematic analysis using Atlas.ti for naturally emerging themes, influences, and determinants of food choice. Few participants used menu labels, despite awareness. The most frequently cited as barriers to menu label use included: price and time constraints, confusion and lack of understanding about caloric values, as well as the priority of preference, hunger, and habitual ordering habits. Based on the individual and external influences on food choice that often take priority over calorie consideration, a modified approach may be necessary to make menu labels more effective and user-friendly.

2012

Elbel, Brian, Jonathan Cantor, and Tod Mijanovich 2012. Potential Effect of the New York City Policy Regarding Sugared Beverages N Engl J Med 2012; 367:680-681August 16, 2012DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1208318
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Abstract

Chan, Sewin and Brian Elbel 2012. Low Cognitive Ability and Poor Skill with Numbers May Prevent Many from Enrolling in Medicare Supplemental Coverage Health Affairs. 2012; 31(8): 1847-1854. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.1000
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Abstract

Because traditional Medicare leaves substantial gaps in coverage, many people obtain supplemental coverage to limit their exposure to out-of-pocket costs. However, some Medicare beneficiaries may not be well equipped to navigate the complex supplemental coverage landscape successfully because of their lower cognitive ability or numeracy—that is, the ability to work with numbers. We found that people in the lower third of the cognitive ability and numeracy distributions were at least eleven percentage points less likely than those in the upper third to enroll in a supplemental Medicare insurance plan. This result means that many Medicare beneficiaries do not have the financial protections and other benefits that would be available to them if they were enrolled in a supplemental insurance plan. Our findings suggest that policy makers may want to consider alternatives tailored to these high-need groups, such as enhanced education and enrollment programs, simpler sets of plan choices, or even some type of automatic enrollment with an option to decline coverage.

Janet Schwartz, Jason Riis, Brian Elbel and Dan Ariely 2012. Inviting Consumers To Downsize Fast-Food Portions Significantly Reduces Calorie Consumption Health Affairs February 2012 vol. 31 no. 2 399-407. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0224
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Abstract

Policies that mandate calorie labeling in fast-food and chain restaurants have had little or no observable impact on calorie consumption to date. In three field experiments, we tested an alternative approach: activating consumers’ self-control by having servers ask customers if they wanted to downsize portions of three starchy side dishes at a Chinese fast-food restaurant. We consistently found that 14–33 percent of customers accepted the downsizing offer, and they did so whether or not they were given a nominal twenty-five-cent discount. Overall, those who accepted smaller portions did not compensate by ordering more calories in their entrées, and the total calories served to them were, on average, reduced by more than 200. We also found that accepting the downsizing offer did not change the amount of uneaten food left at the end of the meal, so the calorie savings during purchasing translated into calorie savings during consumption. Labeling the calorie content of food during one of the experiments had no measurable impact on ordering behavior. If anything, the downsizing offer was less effective in changing customers’ ordering patterns with the calorie labeling present. These findings highlight the potential importance of portion-control interventions that specifically activate consumers’ self-control.

Trasande L and Brian Elbel. 2012. The economic burden placed on healthcare systems by childhood obesity Expert Rev Pharmacoecon Outcomes Res. 2012 Feb;12(1):39-45.
Abstract

The obesity epidemic has transformed children's healthcare, such that diabetes, hypertension and the metabolic syndrome are phrases more commonly used by child health providers than ever before. This article reviews the economic consequences of this epidemic for healthcare delivery systems, both in the short term when obesity has been associated with increased utilization, and in the long term where increased likelihood of adult obesity and cardiovascular disease is well documented. Large investments through research and prevention are needed and are likely to provide strong returns in cost savings, and would optimally emerge through a cooperative effort between private and government payers alike. 

2011

Maria Catherine Raven Colleen C. Gillespie, Rebecca DiBennardo, Kristin Van Busum, Brian Elbel 2011. Vulnerable Patients’ Perceptions of Health Care Quality and Quality Data Med Decis Making March–April 2012 vol. 32 no. 2 311-326. Published online before print October 31, 2011, doi: 10.1177/0272989X11421414
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Abstract

Background. Little is known about how patients served by safety-net hospitals utilize and respond to hospital quality data. Objective. To understand how vulnerable, lower income patients make health care decisions and define quality of care and whether hospital quality data factor into such decisions and definitions. Methods. Mixed quantitative and qualitative methods were used to gather primary data from patients at an urban, tertiary-care safety-net hospital. The study hospital is a member of the first public hospital system to voluntarily post hospital quality data online for public access. Patients were recruited from outpatient and inpatient clinics. Surveys were used to collect data on participants’ sociodemographic characteristics, health literacy, health care experiences, and satisfaction variables. Focus groups were used to explore a representative sample of 24 patients’ health care decision making and views of quality. Data from focus group transcripts were iteratively coded and analyzed by the authors. Results. Focus group participants were similar to the broader diverse, low-income clinic population. Participants reported exercising choice in making decisions about where to seek health care. Multiple sources influenced decision-making processes including participants’ own beliefs and values, social influences, and prior experiences. Hospital quality data were notably absent as a source of influence in health care decision making for this population largely because participants were unaware of its existence. Participants’ views of hospital quality were influenced by the quality and efficiency of services provided (with an emphasis on the doctor-patient relationship) and patient centeredness. When presented with it, patients appreciated the hospital quality data and, with guidance, were interested in incorporating it into health care decision making. Conclusions. Results suggest directions for optimizing the presentation, content, and availability of hospital quality data. Future research will explore how similar populations form and make choices based on presentation of hospital quality data.

Maria C Raven, Kelly M Doran, Shannon Kostrowski, Colleen C Gillespie and Brian D Elbel 2011. An Intervention to Improve Care and Reduce Costs for High Risk Patients with Frequent Health Services Use BMC Health Serv Res. 2011; 11: 270.
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Abstract

Background

A small percentage of high-risk patients accounts for a large proportion of Medicaid spending in the United States, which has become an urgent policy issue. Our objective was to pilot a novel patient-centered intervention for high-risk patients with frequent hospital admissions to determine its potential to improve care and reduce costs.

Methods

Community and hospital-based care management and coordination intervention with pre-post analysis of health care utilization. We enrolled Medicaid fee-for-service patients aged 18-64 who were admitted to an urban public hospital and identified as being at high risk for hospital readmission by a validated predictive algorithm. Enrolled patients were evaluated using qualitative and quantitative interview techniques to identify needs such as transportation to/advocacy during medical appointments, mental health/substance use treatment, and home visits. A community housing partner initiated housing applications in-hospital for homeless patients. Care managers facilitated appropriate discharge plans then worked closely with patients in the community using a harm reduction approach.

Results

Nineteen patients were enrolled; all were male, 18/19 were substance users, and 17/19 were homeless. Patients had a total of 64 inpatient admissions in the 12 months before the intervention, versus 40 in the following 12 months, a 37.5% reduction. Most patients (73.3%) had fewer inpatient admissions in the year after the intervention compared to the prior year. Overall ED visits also decreased after study enrollment, while outpatient clinic visits increased. Yearly study hospital Medicaid reimbursements fell an average of $16,383 per patient.

Conclusions

A pilot intervention for high-cost patients shows promising results for health services usage. We are currently expanding our model to serve more patients at additional hospitals to see if the pilot's success can be replicated.

Maya Vadiveloo, L. Beth Dixon and Brian Elbel. 2011. Consumer Purchasing Patterns in Response to Calorie Labeling Legislation in NYC International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. In Press.
Abstract

Elizabeth Bradley, Benjamin Elkins, Jeph Herrin and Brian Elbel. 2011. Health and Social Service Expenditures: Associations with Health Outcomes BMJ - Quality and Safety. Mar 29 epub, In Press.
Abstract

Objective To examine variations in health service expenditures and social services expenditures across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and assess their association with five population-level health outcomes.

Design A pooled, cross-sectional analysis using data from the 2009 release of the OECD Health Data 2009 Statistics and Indicators and OECD Social Expenditure Database.

Setting OECD countries (n=30) from 1995 to 2005.

Main outcomes Life expectancy at birth, infant mortality, low birth weight, maternal mortality and potential years of life lost.

Results Health services expenditures adjusted for gross domestic product (GDP) per capita were significantly associated with better health outcomes in only two of five health indicators; social services expenditures adjusted for GDP were significantly associated with better health outcomes in three of five indicators. The ratio of social expenditures to health expenditures was significantly associated with better outcomes in infant mortality, life expectancy and increased potential life years lost, after adjusting for the level of health expenditures and GDP.

Conclusion Attention to broader domains of social policy may be helpful in accomplishing improvements in health envisioned by advocates of healthcare reform.

 

Elbel, B., Gyamfi, J. & Kersh, R. 2011. Child and Adolescent Fast Food Choice and the Influence of Calorie Labeling International Journal of Obesity
Abstract

Objective:Obesity is an enormous public health problem and children have been particularly highlighted for intervention. Of notable concern is the fast-food consumption of children. However, we know very little about how children or their parents make fast-food choices, including how they respond to mandatory calorie labeling. We examined children's and adolescents' fast-food choice and the influence of calorie labels in low-income communities in New York City (NYC) and in a comparison city (Newark, NJ).
Design:Natural experiment: Survey and receipt data were collected from low-income areas in NYC, and Newark, NJ (as a comparison city), before and after mandatory labeling began in NYC. Study restaurants included four of the largest chains located in NYC and Newark: McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and Kentucky Fried Chicken.Subjects:A total of 349 children and adolescents aged 1-17 years who visited the restaurants with their parents (69%) or alone (31%) before or after labeling was introduced. In total, 90% were from racial or ethnic minority groups.
Results:We found no statistically significant differences in calories purchased before and after labeling; many adolescents reported noticing calorie labels after their introduction (57% in NYC) and a few considered the information when ordering (9%). Approximately 35% of adolescents ate fast food six or more times per week and 72% of adolescents reported that taste was the most important factor in their meal selection. Adolescents in our sample reported that parents have some influence on their meal selection.
Conclusions:Adolescents in low-income communities notice calorie information at similar rates as adults, although they report being slightly less responsive to it than adults. We did not find evidence that labeling influenced adolescent food choice or parental food choices for children in this population.

2010

Elbel, B. 2010. Consumer Estimation of Recommended and Actual Calories at Fast Food Restaurants Obesity (Silver Spring). Oct 2011; 19(10): 1971–1978.
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Abstract

Recently, localities across the United States have passed laws requiring the mandatory labeling of calories in all chain restaurants, including fast food restaurants. This policy is set to be implemented at the federal level. Early studies have found these policies to be at best minimally effective in altering food choice at a population level. This paper uses receipt and survey data collected from consumers outside fast food restaurants in low-income communities in New York City (NYC) (which implemented labeling) and a comparison community (which did not) to examine two fundamental assumptions necessary (though not sufficient) for calorie labeling to be effective: that consumers know how many calories they should be eating throughout the course of a day and that currently customers improperly estimate the number of calories in their fast food order. Then, we examine whether mandatory menu labeling influences either of these assumptions. We find that approximately one-third of consumers properly estimate that the number of calories an adult should consume daily. Few (8% on average) believe adults should be eating over 2,500 calories daily, and approximately one-third believe adults should eat lesser than 1,500 calories daily. Mandatory labeling in NYC did not change these findings. However, labeling did increase the number of low-income consumers who correctly estimated (within 100 calories) the number of calories in their fast food meal, from 15% before labeling in NYC increasing to 24% after labeling. Overall knowledge remains low even with labeling. Additional public policies likely need to be considered to influence obesity on a large scale.

Kersh, R. & Elbel, B. 2010. Childhood Obesity: public health impact and policy responses "Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity: Current Status, Consequences and Prevention" Debasis Bagchi, Editor. Sept-2010
Abstract

Understanding the complex factors contributing to the growing childhood obesity epidemic is vital not only for the improved health of the world's future generations, but for the healthcare system. The impact of childhood obesity reaches beyond the individual family and into the public arenas of social systems and government policy and programs. Global Perspectives on Childhood Obesity explores these with an approach that considers the current state of childhood obesity around the world as well as future projections, the most highly cited factors contributing to childhood obesity, what it means for the future both for children and society, and suggestions for steps to address and potentially prevent childhood obesity.

Schlesinger, M. & Elbel, B. 2010. How Much Choice? Nonlinear Relationships Between The Number of Health Plan Options and the Behavior of Medicare Beneficiaries
Abstract

2009

Elbel, B., Kersh, R., Brescoll, V.L. & Dixon, L.B. 2009. Calorie Labeling And Food Choices: A First Look At The Effects On Low-Income People In New York City Health Affairs (Millwood). 2009;28(6):w1110-21 (published online October 6; 10.1377/ hlthaff.28.6.w1110)
Abstract

We examined the influence of menu calorie labels on fast food choices in the wake of New York City's labeling mandate. Receipts and survey responses were collected from 1,156 adults at fast-food restaurants in low-income, minority New York communities. These were compared to a sample in Newark, New Jersey, a city that had not introduced menu labeling. We found that 27.7 percent who saw calorie labeling in New York said the information influenced their choices. However, we did not detect a change in calories purchased after the introduction of calorie labeling. We encourage more research on menu labeling and greater attention to evaluating and implementing other obesity-related policies.

 

2007

Schlesinger, M., Stuckler, D. & Elbel, B. 2007. Experience Goods and Expectational Traps: Bounded Rationality and Consumer Behavior in Markets for Medical Care
Abstract

Sindelar, J., Elbel, B. & Petry, N. 2007. Do We Get What We Pay For? Cost-Effectiveness of Adding Contingency Management. Addiction, Vol. 102, No. 2, pp. 309-316.
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Abstract

Aims To assess the relative cost-effectiveness of lower versus higher cost prize-based contingency management (CM) treatments for cocaine abuse.

Design Cost-effectiveness analyses based on resource utilization, unit costs and outcomes from a previous CM efficacy trial.

Setting Two community-based treatment centers.

Participants Patients (n = 120) enrolled in out-patient treatment for cocaine abuse.

Intervention Random assignment to one of three 12-week treatment conditions: standard treatment (STD) alone or two variants of STD combined with prize based CM. In CM, drawing for prizes was available to those submitting drug-free urine samples and completing goal-related activities. There were two levels of pay-out (referred to as $80 versus $240) based on the potential value of prizes won.

Measurements Costs per participant associated with counseling utilization, urine and breathalyzer testing, and operation of the prize-drawing procedure were derived from a survey conducted at 16 clinics that had participated in CM studies. The three measures of effectiveness were: (1) longest duration of consecutive abstinence; (2) percentage completing treatment; and (3) percentage of samples drug-free.

Findings The higher magnitude CM produced outcomes at a lower per unit cost than did the lower magnitude prize CM treatment. This was the case for all three outcome measures examined and held across various assumptions in the sensitivity analysis.

Conclusions Cost-effectiveness analyses can inform policy decisions regarding selection of one treatment model over another. Decisions on adoption of new evidence-based treatments would be aided by more information on society's willingness to pay for incremental gains in effectiveness.

 

2006

Cherlin, E., Helf, B., Elbel, B., Busch, S.H. & Bradley, E.H. 2006. Cultivating Next Generation Leadership: Preceptors’ Rating of Competencies in Post-Graduate Administrative Residents and Fellows. Journal of Health Administration Education, Fall 2006, pp. 351-365.
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Abstract

Substantial national attention is being directed at enhancing the competency levels of early careerists in healthcare management. In this study, we examined preceptors' ratings of administrative resident/fellow competencies in multiple domains, and we compared those to our previous results of self-rated competency by residents/fellows. In this national sample of preceptors (n=61) of administrative residency/fellowship program listed with the American College of Healthcare Executives, competency in the information management domain was ranked highest, with more than half of preceptors (55.7%) giving their residents/fellows an "A" rating. Fewer preceptors (between 30.0% and 39.2%) gave their residents/fellows an "A" rating in domains of interpersonal and emotional intelligence, analytic and conceptual reasoning, and clinical operations. Less than 20% of preceptors rated competencies as "A" level in the domains of human resources/marketing/public affairs, financial management, fund raising, and facilities management. There were significant differences in preceptor ratings compared with resident/fellow self-ratings, with preceptors often providing lower ratings than provided by resident/fellows. The findings highlight the need not only to enhance competency levels of graduates but also to address the potential mismatch in early careerists' and preceptors' views about required and attained competency levels.

Bradley, E.H., Herrin, J., Elbel, B., McNamara, R.L., Magid, D.J. Brahmajee K…& Krumholz, H.M. 2006. Hospital Quality for Acute Myocardial Infarction: Correlation Among Process Measures and Relationship with Short-Term Mortality Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 296, No. 1, pp. 72-78.
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Abstract

Context The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) measure and report quality process measures for acute myocardial infarction (AMI), but little is known about how these measures are correlated with each other and the degree to which inferences about a hospital's outcomes can be made from its performance on publicly reported processes.

Objective To determine correlations among AMI core process measures and the degree to which they explain the variation in hospital-specific, risk-standardized, 30-day mortality rates.

Design, Setting, and Participants We assessed hospital performance in the CMS/JCAHO AMI core process measures using 2002-2003 data from 962 hospitals participating in the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (NRMI) and correlated these measures with each other and with hospital-level, risk-standardized, 30-day mortality rates derived from Medicare claims data.

Main Outcome Measures Hospital performance on AMI core measures; hospital-specific, risk-standardized, 30-day mortality rates for AMI patients aged 66 years or older.

Results We found moderately strong correlations (correlation coefficients ≥0.40; P values <.001) for all pairwise comparisons between beta-blocker use at admission and discharge, aspirin use at admission and discharge, and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor use, and weaker, but statistically significant, correlations between these medication measures and smoking cessation counseling and time to reperfusion therapy measures (correlation coefficients <0.40; P values <.001). Some process measures were significantly correlated with risk-standardized, 30-day mortality rates (P values <.001) but together explained only 6.0% of hospital-level variation in risk-standardized, 30-day mortality rates for patients with AMI.

Conclusions The publicly reported AMI process measures capture a small proportion of the variation in hospitals' risk-standardized short-term mortality rates. Multiple measures that reflect a variety of processes and also outcomes, such as risk-standardized mortality rates, are needed to more fully characterize hospital performance.

 

2004

Kronebusch, K. & Elbel, B. 2004. Enrolling Children in Public Insurance: SCHIP, Medicaid, and State Implementation Journal of Health Politics, Policy & Law; Jun 2004, Vol. 29 Issue 3, p451-489, 39p.
Abstract

The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 established federal grants to the states to create the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This presented the states with a number of implementation choices concerning administrative models for the new programs, as well as choices about eligibility standards, enrollment simplification, crowd-out, and cost sharing requirements. At the same time, the states were also implementing welfare reform. We describe the most important of these implementation choices, and using data from the Current Population Survey, we estimate the impacts of state policy on enrollment in this multiprogram environment. The results indicate that SCHIP programs that are administered as Medicaid expansions are more successful than either separate SCHIP plans or combination programs in enrolling children. States that remove asset tests and implement presumptive eligibility and self-declaration of income have higher enrollment levels. Continuous eligibility and adoption of mail-in applications have no effect on overall enrollment. Waiting periods and premiums reduce enrollment. Stringent welfare reform reduces children's enrollment, despite federal policy that was intended to protect children from the consequences of welfare reform. The negative impacts of a number of these policy reforms substantially reduce enrollment, potentially offsetting the more favorable impacts of other policy choices. We estimate that if all states adopted the policy options that facilitate program use, enrollment for children with family incomes less than 200 percent of the poverty line could be raised from the current rate of 42 percent to 58 percent.

Kronebusch, K. & Elbel, B. 2004. Simplifying Children's Medicaid And SCHIP Health Affairs; May/Jun2004, Vol. 23 Issue 3, p233-246, 14p.
Abstract

The states have implemented the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in a variety of ways. We describe these choices and estimate the resulting enrollment impacts. Many widely adopted policies, including mail-in applications and twelve- month continuous eligibility, have had limited impacts. Other policies that increase enrollment, including presumptive eligibility and self-declaration of income, have not been widely adopted. SCHIP programs administered as Medicaid expansions have been more successful in enrolling children than either separate SCHIP plans or combination programs. Waiting periods, premiums, and welfare reform have had important negative impacts on children's program enrollment.

2002

Schlesinger, M., Mitchell, S. & Elbel, B. 2002. Voices Unheard: Barriers to Expressing Dissatisfaction to Health Plans Milbank Quarterly, Vol. 80, No. 4, pp. 709-755.
Abstract

Consumers dissatisfied with their health plan can either "exit" (switch service providers) or "voice" (complain to the current provider). Policymakers' efforts to help consumers voice their dissatisfaction to health plans or external mediators have been disappointing, in part because little is known about the determinants of voice. This article represents the first comprehensive assessment of voicing in response to problematic experiences with health plans. A national consumer survey from 1999 is used to test hypotheses about characteristics of problems, patients, and settings that might inhibit voice and assess state regulations intended to enhance voice. Although problems associated with plans led to more voice than exit, voice is circumscribed by several factors: certain groups, such as racial minorities, do not express their grievances as often; episodes with severe health consequences for patients are not reported as regularly. The findings suggest that even though regulatory initiatives have not increased the frequency of voice, they have made grievances more effective, at least in jurisdictions where citizens know about the laws.