The heart of NYU Wagner's programs is our faculty. An amalgam of full-time, clinical/research/visiting, and adjunct professors, they are outstanding teachers, expert researchers and committed practitioners.
Daniel L. Smith, assistant professor of public budgeting and financial management at NYU Wagner, has been named the 2012 recipient of the University’s Faculty Fellow-in-Residence Of the Year Award.
“It’s a real honor to win this award, especially in my first year as an FFiR,” he said.
We couldn't agree more.
The position of Faculty Fellow-In-Residence is part of a continuing University effort to create intimate "learning communities" for students within the residence halls, and integrate their academic experiences with their residential lives. A key aspect of this effort is the creation of a meaningful and active faculty presence in the residence halls.
Faculty Fellows work closely with one another and with residence hall staff to set an intellectual tone, and to design and implement a wide range of programmatic and other opportunities for students to interact with faculty members and with one another. By bringing cultural and intellectual experiences more directly into student life in a lively and often informal fashion, the program offers students the benefits of “small college” life within the larger contexts of both the University and the City of New York.
Professor Smith was nominated by two Res Life staff in his building (Greenwich Hotel): the Residence Hall director and one of the Resident Assistants. They noted in their nominating comments that Smith has taken the time to foster individual relationships with all of the RA’s and many of the residents.
The award selection was made by student members of the NYU (“Torch”) Chapter of the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH).
When organizations or businesses stumble, the search for an explanation often leads back to the quality of the evidence-gathering process. It is that process, known as Evidence-based Management (EBM), that fascinates Anthony R. Kovner, who has spent more than a decade trying to get managers to employ it when they seek ways to improve their organization’s performance and results.
Professor Kovner teaches EBM to students at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, where he is a professor of public and health management and the director of the Executive MPA Program for Nurse Leaders. He is also the author of several books on healthcare management. Shortly before the publication of a chapter he recently wrote, entitled “Adventures in the Evidence-based Management Trade,” for the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Evidence-Based Management (Oxford University Press), he sat down with NYU Research Digest (Spring 2012) to discuss Evidence-based Management.
What’s the theory behind EBM?
Evidence-based Management comes out of medicine—the idea that if you make a medical intervention, it should have a predictable and positive outcome. We said, “Why can’t we apply this in management?” Well, the truth is, it’s not a simple matter. We know a lot less about management than medicine, for which there’s a huge medical research establishment, the randomized clinical trial, and an established process for scientific review.
What professional sector does EBM most lend itself to?
To every sector. So for example, when two large health organizations decide to merge, we say, “Wouldn’t it make sense to look at the best available evidence before making a decision to merge?” Instead, a very common managerial response is: “We want to merge—let’s find the evidence that justifies it.” So these managers need to do more than just type “hospital merger” in Google? Keep in mind that all managers make decisions based on evidence. The point is, what is the quality of the evidence? It can be pretty shabby.
What’s wrong with the process as it works now?
When, for instance, two large institutions decide to merge, to what extent do they ask in advance, “What do we know about successful and unsuccessful mergers?” Generally speaking, what they do is ask the consultants, and the consultants say, “This would work in Akron.” But of course that doesn’t mean that it would work in Brooklyn. Are the merging institutions’ two geographies compatible? What about their respective cultures? It’s not that you get to a solution—these kinds of problems are too messy, too wicked, and the causation is not as clear as in randomized clinical trials. But it informs your thinking so you can see and avoid the worst consequences of what might happen.
How should the evidence gathering begin?
Three basic steps: search and locate the best available evidence, learn from best practices, and try doing your own management research. If you are studying why nurses turn over so much in your hospital, it’s important for you to understand the differences between the 12-hour day shift and the 12-hour night shift. The most important step, though, is to ask the right question, and translate your management challenge into an answerable one.
If EBM is so effective, why don’t more organizations engage in it?
That’s the $64,000 question, and it’s not an easy question to deal with. What it really is about is power and hierarchy and organizations. Let’s say an employee comes up with a better way of doing something and tells the boss about it. You’d expect the boss to say it’s a great idea, let’s do it. But in practice the boss says, “You’re insulting the way I’m managing this place,” or “If you thought of it, then how good can it be, if I didn’t think of it,” or “Go ahead and present your ideas to the higher-ups, and if they like it I’ll take credit for it, and, if they don’t we’ll blame you. “
That sounds almost insurmountable.
The trick of it is to make the politics work for you. To get it implemented, you have to get the managers to see that it’s in their political interest to practice evidence-based management. And I believe it is.”
The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, a project of the New York University School of Law and NYU Wagner, has just released the 10th annual edition of its widely read State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report.
Professors Been and Ellen are the directors of the Furman Center, which, in February, garnered a nationally prestigious MacArthur Award For Creative and Effective Institutions.
The 10th annual edition of the State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods, features 2011 data on housing, demographics, and quality of life indicators for each borough and for the city’s 59 community districts. It also finds that while the city remains highly segregated by race, more of its neighborhoods are racially integrated today than 20 years ago. In addition, this year’s report analyzes mortgage finance trends in New York City, and finds that the volume of lending is increasing, the number of foreclosure notices issued has dropped from previous years, and the number of properties entering REO has decreased.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of women die during childbirth as a result of preventable conditions, including the fact that many couldn’t afford proper care. Starting later this fall, an 18-month research initiative in Kenya will deliver, via mobile phones, a set of interventions designed in part to help pregnant women set aside enough savings to cover the cost of skilled care and delivery assistance.
The research will be conducted by James Habyarimana and Billy Jack, both of Georgetown University, Tavneet Suri of MIT, and Karen Grépin, an assistant professor of global health policy at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, in collaboration with Changamka, Ltd., a Kenya micro-savings company. Financial support for the project comes from the Microsavings and Payments Innovation Initiative at Yale University, Innovations for Poverty Action, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Professor Grépin, whose research work focuses on the economics and politics of health service delivery in developing countries, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa, spoke with NYU Research Digest as she prepared to launch the project, and, as it happens, as she anticipated her own delivery too, in May. (A shorter version of this interview appeared in the Spring 2012 Digest.)
What’s driving the project? Pregnant women in many developing countries, including Kenya, say that financial barriers keep them from seeking proper maternal health services, including skilled assistance at delivery. What are the barriers to increased savings needed to cover the costs associated with delivery? That is the primary question we will attempt to answer.
Why is it important to know how and why pregnant women in Kenya save money? It’s important that we become better able to understand all the barriers that pregnant women face to health care – informational, financial, and others. If we do, we might be able to develop savings vehicles that would help promote the capacity of women to accrue enough money to cover the cost of their baby’s delivery, both in Kenya and other settings as well. Since we will also be able to learn what care these women seek for their deliveries, we hope that this study will also contribute to our understanding of health-seeking behavior.
Your project involves mobile phones. What is their significance here? One of the big innovations in this project is that we plan to deliver all of the interventions that we are testing (financial incentives and informational incentives) via mobile phones. Mobile phones have become widely available in many developing countries. But people don’t use them just for communication; they are also used as credit cards and bank accounts, especially in Kenya. If we find that our interventions are successful, the interventions can be scaled up rapidly and inexpensively due to the availability of this technological platform.
What unique challenges do you anticipate? Our primary research site will be in densely populated urban slums in Kenya. Since we need to track and monitor women for approximately a year, this can be challenging in these communities. Fortunately, we do have their cell phone numbers, which does make continued tracking a great deal easier!
How does this research relate to other work that has been done in this vein? This work is part of a growing area of research on the potential of m-health technologies to improve health service delivery in developing countries. It also adds to the growing literature in the international health economics literature on savings and incentives for seeking care. It is one of the few m-health programs under way that will be evaluated in a rigorous randomized control trial setting.
Why do you consider the project of great importance, and to whom? The work is critically important. Although great efforts have been exerted over the past few decades to improve access to maternal health services in most developing countries, millions of women still do not seek proper care at delivery, and as a result hundreds of thousands die every year during childbirth from conditions that could be prevented if they were access the proper care. Given that financial barriers are seen as key to this challenge, we hope that this work will help develop our understanding in this area.
NYU Wagner’s International Public Service Association, the Wagner Policy Alliance, and Zawadi Rucks Ahidiana are the recipients of the 2012 President’s Service Award.
The award spotlights the distinguished achievements of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students and organizations for their promotion of learning, leadership, and quality of student life at New York University.
The 2012 Awards Ceremony was held on Tuesday, April 24 in the Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, on the 4th floor of the Kimmel Center for University Life, according recognition to:
The International Public Service Association: For its continued success in working well with faculty and administrators to design international development programming that best meets the needs of their constituency.
The Wagner Policy Alliance: For its exemplary leadership, professionalism, and outstanding success on their NYU-wide event, "Campaign Watch 2012."
Zawadi Rucks Ahidiana, adjunct lecturer in public administration: For her academic excellence, professionalism, and outstanding contributions to the NYU Wagner community.
Sincere and heartfelt congratulations to all the winners, who make Wagner proud!
The April edition of the New England Journal for Medicine features an essay co-written by Jan Blustein, professor of health policy and medicine at NYU Wagner, on the prospects for success of hospital “pay for performance.” The new payment mechanism will be implemented across U.S. acute care hospitals this October under the Medicare Hospital Value-Based (VBP) program.
Paying U.S. acute care hospitals for improved performance is based on the notion that money changes behavior. “Accumulating evidence, however, raises serious doubts about whether the program will improve value in health care,” Professor Blustein writes with Andrew Ryan, a public health scholar at the Weill Cornell Medical College in the essay “Making the Best of Hospital Pay for Performance.” The piece, newly-published online and available in print April 26, explores how we can learn from the program as it unfolds, and how it can be improved, and includes an audio interview with Dr. Blustein.
Dr. Blustein’s research on this topic appears separately in the April edition of the journal Health Affairs. In this scholarly article, coauthored with Ryan and other experts in public policy and medicine, she examines the impact of the incentive’s piloted use by Massachusetts to address racial and ethnic disparities in hospital care. The research raises questions about whether "pay for performance" for hospitals is an effective method for stemming disparities.
In addition to her role as professor of health policy and medicine at Wagner, Blustein co-directs New York University’s NIH-funded TL1 PhD program in Clinical and Translational Research, and is the founding director of the IRB Initiative, a resource for issues involving federal regulation of human-subjects research. She holds an MD degree from the Yale School of Medicine and a Ph.D. from Wagner.