Director's Note
Health information technologies (HIT) are so ubiquitous in healthcare that it’s hard to recall when electronic health records (EHR) did not exist. In fact, one of the earliest systems was the Veterans Health Administration’s (VA) Computerized Patient Records System (CPRS), which was developed in the early 1990s and gradually rolled out across the VA through the early 2000s. The VA implemented its innovative Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA) system in 2001, and the HITECH Act was not established until 2009.

A lot has changed since I evaluated the VA’s HIT implementation 
process and outcomes in hospitals with IHPS Fellowship alum Ciaran Phibbs! Other IHPS researchers were in the early vanguard of HIT research, including Naomi Bardach’s work on whether Yelp reviews were correlated with objective outcomes and Janet Coffman’s survey of the degree to which California physicians were meaningfully using electronic health records. This month, we showcase the latest HIT-related research in our community, which covers a wide range of topics and is advancing the use of technology to improve patient-centered care, ease the workload burden of clinicians, and address health equity.

Joanne Spetz
IHPS Focus On:
Digital Health and Informatics

Many IHPS faculty are working on policy related to digital health and informatics. Mary Whooley, MD, Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD, Benjamin Rosner, MD, PhD, A Jay Holmgren, PhD, Naomi Bardach, MD, Mara Decker, DrPH, Justin White, PhD, Charlie Wray, DO, MS, Leah Karliner, MD, Laura Gottlieb, MD and Matt Pantell, MD, MS are just some of our faculty working in this area. Learn more about their current work.

Upcoming Events
PRL-IHPS Health Policy Grand Rounds
Using incentives to curb tobacco use:
Policy and behavioral insights

Feb 16, 12 - 1 pm PT

Justin White, PhD

Justin White, PhD, is Associate Professor of Health Economics in the UCSF School of Medicine, with joint appointments in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics. He studies the role of incentives in promoting healthy behavior, informed by research from the field of behavioral economics. Much of his work focuses on chronic disease prevention, notably smoking cessation, both in the US and in low- and middle-income countries. His work draws on a variety of methodological approaches, including randomized interventional trials and quasi-experimental econometric techniques. Recent and ongoing projects involve evaluations of tobacco and sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, "gamification" in a smoking cessation smartphone app, and school competitions to prevent smoking.

New Associate Director for Faculty Development
Congratulations to Daniel Dohan, PhD the new Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (IHPS) Associate Director for Faculty Development.

The Associate Director for Faculty Development is a new position at IHPS that will lead the creation and execution of programs and activities to develop the faculty at IHPS and support their advancement. This includes the development of improved onboarding processes for new affiliated and core faculty, creating a program to develop professional skills across the continuum of faculty rank, and identifying and implementing activities to support interdisciplinary research.

Dan has exciting ideas about how we can do more to support our faculty, develop their skills, and accelerate their impact on evidence-informed policy. Dan has served as Deputy Director since 2015 and was the Associate Director for Training for 16 years prior to that. This new role will leverage Dan’s deep familiarity with IHPS and UCSF as well as Dan’s track record as a mentor.
Research Highlights

Evidence-to-decision (EtD) frameworks provide a structured and transparent approach for groups of experts to use when formulating recommendations or making decisions. While extensively used for clinical and public health recommendations, EtD frameworks are not in widespread use in environmental health. A new review by Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH and colleagues sought to identify, compare and contrast key EtD frameworks for decisions on interventions used in clinical medicine, public health or environmental health. The research team shared their findings in Environmental Health, which they hope can be used to develop an EtD framework suitable for formulating recommendations for interventions in environmental health.

In their qualitative study of community and children’s hospitals, Sunitha Kaiser, MD and colleagues found challenges in inpatient pediatric quality and safety during the COVID pandemic. In a recent Hospital Pediatrics article, Kaiser and colleagues share these findings which can potentially help in identifying areas of focus for planning pandemic recovery, preparing for future pandemics and conducting future research on inpatient pediatric quality and safety.

In a recent Medical Education Online article, Megha Garg, MD, MPH and colleagues describe the curriculum they created in 2018 for first-year medical students to address the public health crisis of firearm violence, while also teaching students how domestic policies and legislation influence the practice of medicine. The curriculum included space for students to discuss the personal impact of firearms and related legislation, and to practice patient counseling.

IHPS faculty are responding to policy challenges raised by the
COVID-19 pandemic with rapid-cycle research and technical assistance. A compilation of their work to date is available on a regularly updated webpage. 

One recent publication is by Dorie Apollonio, PhD and colleagues, "Changes in California cannabis exposures following recreational legalization and the COVID-19 pandemic". published in Clinical Toxicology.  Read more about our work to address the COVID pandemic here.
IHPS Faculty Spotlight
Charlie Wray, DO, MS is an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at UCSF and affiliated faculty in the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. As a health services researcher, Dr. Wray's work is largely focused on improving the quality, safety, and value of care we provide Veteran's Administration (VA) patients. His research program is primarily focused on two areas: 1) exploring the impact social determinants have on health and health outcomes, and 2) assessing digital connectedness among socially vulnerable individuals and the potential impact digital-based care can have on clinical outcomes.

As a clinician and educator, Dr. Wray focuses on improving the quality and value of care we provide our patients. He places a strong emphasis on the proper interpretation, use, and application of evidence-based medicine with his learners. He stresses the importance of delivering high-value, cost-consciousness care and continually encourages himself and fellow learners to be critical with their healthcare delivery.
Media Mentions