Brent Fulton, Associate Director

Closed (1) Using Predictive Modeling to Identify Combinations of Factors Associated with Severe COVID-19 Complications

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

Several studies have found that severe COVID-19 illness and death are associated with older age and underlying conditions. This study will improve upon those studies by using machine learning predictive models on two novel, newly created, patient-level healthcare databases to identify the interactions among demographic characteristics, comorbidities, and clinical information that best predict severe COVID-19 complications, including hospitalization, >=7 day length of stay, an ICU stay, ventilator usage, and death. The findings will inform clinicians and policy-makers about which sets of patient characteristics create the greatest risk for severe complications, enabling improved patient care and safer re-openings of local economies.


The student will search for and summarize existing studies, and depending on skill level, do analyses and create tables and figures using excel.

The student's key learning outcome will be gaining a better understanding on how empirical research is conducted within health economics.

Qualifications: Required skills include the following: strong writing skills, proficiency in searching publication databases (e.g., PubMed, Google Scholar, etc.), proficiency in Microsoft Office. Desirable but not essential skills include the following: background in U.S. healthcare system and health economics (e.g., taken PH150D and/or PH126), Endnote (now Zotero), Excel. Hours per week is about 8-10 (so you could select 6-8 or 9-11).

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: We would meet weekly for an hour over Zoom if the campus is closed or at 2121 Berkeley Way in the new SPH building if the campus safely re-opens.

Closed (2) Examination of Medicare Accountable Care Organizations and Hospitals in Rural Areas

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

This study will leverage unique access to rural accountable care organizations (ACOs) to expand the evidence base on how rural accountable care organizations and their affiliated hospitals impact the healthcare of geographically isolated patients, particularly high-need, high-cost patients. This study contains two aims: first we will investigate the relationship between rural ACOs and the performance of the hospitals in those areas. We will focus on patient outcomes (e.g., ambulatory-care-sensitive admissions and readmission rates) and hospital metrics (e.g., overall financial performance and annual occupancy rates). We will study specific characteristics of the ACOs and hospitals (e.g., size, ownership) that may moderate the relationship between ACOs and hospital financial viability and patient outcomes. As part of this aim, we will conduct analyses on the subpopulation of high need/high cost patients.

The student will search for and summarize existing studies, and depending on skill level, do analyses and create tables and figures using excel.

The student's key learning outcome will be gaining a better understanding on how empirical research is conducted within health economics.

Qualifications: Required skills include the following: strong writing skills, proficiency in searching publication databases (e.g., PubMed, Google Scholar, etc.), proficiency in Microsoft Office. Desirable but not essential skills include the following: background in U.S. healthcare system and health economics (e.g., taken PH150D and/or PH126), Endnote, Excel. Hours per week is about 8-10 (so you could select 6-8 or 9-11).

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: We would meet weekly for an hour over Zoom if the campus is closed or at 2121 Berkeley Way in the new SPH building if the campus safely re-opens.

Closed (3) Health Insurance Investment Hazard

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

Background: Enrollee turnover in health insurance plans results in under-investment in health and healthcare because health plans have less than the socially optimal incentive to promote healthcare investments that have a long payoff horizon, such as delaying the onset of chronic conditions. I call this health insurance “investment hazard”.
Objectives: To estimate the welfare loss associated with health insurance investment hazard, and to estimate the degree that longer-term insurance contracts and/or a health-credits market could reduce this loss.
Methods and Data: A simulation will be conducted to estimate the welfare loss and the degree that this loss would be mitigated by longer-term insurance contracts and/or a health-credits market. The focus will be on Medicaid managed care and Affordable Care Act Exchanges because premiums are already risk adjusted, enrollees are generally younger, and these plans have higher turnover as compared with Medicare Advantage plans. The data will be from health insurers’ that have calculated patient health risk scores or from healthcare claims data in which risk scores can be calculated.
Results: Forthcoming
Discussion: Health insurance investment hazard may be significant and may be mitigated by longer-term insurance contracts and/or a health-credits market, resulting in reduced healthcare expenditures, particularly for Medicare because it insurers almost all individuals aged 65+.

The student will search for and summarize existing studies, and depending on skill level, do analyses and create tables and figures using excel.

The student's key learning outcome will be gaining a better understanding on how empirical research is conducted within health economics.

Qualifications: Required skills include the following: strong writing skills, proficiency in searching publication databases (e.g., PubMed, Google Scholar, etc.), proficiency in Microsoft Office. Desirable but not essential skills include the following: background in U.S. healthcare system and health economics (e.g., taken PH150D and/or PH126), Endnote, Excel. Hours per week is about 8-10 (so you could select 6-8 or 9-11).

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: We would meet weekly for an hour over Zoom if the campus is closed or at 2121 Berkeley Way in the new SPH building if the campus safely re-opens.

Closed (4) Estimating the Impacts of Healthcare Mergers and Acquisitions

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

Healthcare providers and insurers have consolidated in the past decade, leading to higher prices without a commensurate increase in quality. Moreover, potentially anti-competitive contract terms, such as all-or-nothing and anti-tiering clauses can exacerbate this situation. The study will extend the evidence base on the effects of healthcare consolidation.

The student will search for and summarize existing studies, and depending on skill level, do analyses and create tables and figures using excel.

The student's key learning outcome will be gaining a better understanding on how empirical research is conducted within health economics.

Qualifications: Required skills include the following: strong writing skills, proficiency in searching publication databases (e.g., PubMed, Google Scholar, etc.), proficiency in Microsoft Office. Desirable but not essential skills include the following: background in U.S. healthcare system and health economics (e.g., taken PH150D and/or PH126), Endnote (now Zotero), Excel. Hours per week is about 8-10 (so you could select 6-8 or 9-11).

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: We would meet weekly for an hour over Zoom if the campus is closed or at 2121 Berkeley Way in the new SPH building if the campus safely re-opens.