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Dr. Andrew M. Ryan Honored for His Health Services Research

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Andrew M. Ryan, PhD, MA, Assistant Professor of Public Health in the Division of Outcomes and Effectiveness Research and the Walsh McDermott Scholar in Public Health, was recently honored by Health Services Research, one of the premier journals in health care practice and policy. Dr. Ryan's article "Has Pay-for-Performance Decreased Access for Minority Patients?" was selected as the journal's 2010 John M. Eisenberg Article-of-the-Year. This award recognizes excellent and original research among all articles published in the journal during the year prior to the award. Awardees are selected based on the overall quality of the article and its relevance to policy-relevant areas that Dr. Eisenberg had worked in or promoted during his tenure as Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. According to the journal's editors and publisher, Dr. Ryan's paper "exemplifies the high standard of excellence in research that merits this memorial to Dr. Eisenberg and his vision of translational research to move our field forward into evidence-based policy and practice."

Dr. Ryan's article investigates whether a hospital-based pay-for-performance (P4P) program, in which Medicare payment is based on quality performance for certain conditions and procedures, would lead the hospital to avoid treating minority patients. The potential that hospitals and physicians taking part in P4P programs would avoid minority patients, for fear that their treatment outcomes would be lower and would decrease the practice's overall score, has been a concern of health services researchers. Although Dr. Ryan's study found minimal evidence of such avoidance in the program he investigated, he urges continued monitoring of P4P programs for minority patient avoidance.

Dr. Ryan will receive the Eisenberg award June 12, 2011 in Seattle, WA, during the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting. AcademyHealth is a support and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the knowledge base of health care decision-making and helping to translate health service research findings into policy and practice. Its annual meeting is the main research meeting for researchers in the field. Dr. Ryan also had five abstracts accepted for this year's meeting — an unusually large number for an individual investigator (he will present two of them). Furthermore, his abstract titled "Has Public Quality Reporting in Medicare Reduced Mortality?" was selected as the best in its category.

"It is wonderful that Dr. Ryan's important and high-quality work to improve the U.S. health system is being recognized with the Eisenberg award and by his high number of accepted abstracts for this year's AcademyHealth meeting," said Lawrence P. Casalino, MD, PhD, MPH, The Livingston Farrand Associate Professor of Public Health and Chief of the Division of Outcomes and Effectiveness Research. "The best in category selection in particular is an especially competitive honor."

"Dr. Ryan's impressive research is essential for informing current healthcare reform efforts in this country," added Alvin I. Mushlin, MD, ScM, the Nanette Laitman Professor and Chairman of the Department of Public Health. "I am very gratified that his work is so highly visible and well regarded by colleagues in his field."

Dr. Ryan has a PhD in Social Policy with a concentration in Health Policy from Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. He also completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Heller School. His research focuses on pay-for-performance and public quality reporting in health care, disparities and discrimination in health care, policy analysis, and applied econometrics. He currently holds a K01 Mentored Research Scientist Research Career Development Award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) for his study, "Estimating Hospital Outcome Quality: Applications to Pay-for-Performance." He is also working with other faculty members in his division on three studies with New York City's Primary Care Information Project (PCIP), which seeks to improve population health through health information technology and data exchange.

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