Health Economist Joins Georgetown

Posted in GUMC Stories

A well-known health economist says she wanted to join the faculty of the School of Nursing & Health Studies because of the school’s mission.

“The school’s commitment to reflective scholarship and social justice in the context of health care attracted me to Georgetown,” said Carole Roan Gresenz, Ph.D., who is the first holder of the Bette Jacobs Endowed Professorship in the Department of Health Systems Administration at NHS.

Gresenz started June 1 after nearly 20 years with the RAND Corporation, where she most recently served as senior economist and director of the Health Economics, Finance, and Organization program within RAND Health.

A Strong Asset

Martin Y. Iguchi, Ph.D., the school’s dean, and Patricia Cloonan, Ph.D., the department’s chair, announced Gresenz’s appointment.

“As the first holder of this professorship, Dr. Gresenz will contribute to the department’s teaching and research mission,” they said. “Her background in policy analysis and health systems and her expertise in economics will be a strong asset to our undergraduate program in health care management & policy, as well as our graduate program in health systems administration.”

Gresenz has contributed to more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, including in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Health Affairs, the British Medical Journal, and Health Services Research.

Cancer Control

Gresenz is currently working on various research projects, including an initiative with the DC Cancer Consortium.

“My colleagues at RAND and I have been working closely with the consortium in an effort to track the District’s progress toward improved cancer-related health and health care outcomes among the city’s residents” she said.

Specifically, she and her colleagues have provided technical advice to the consortium regarding metrics for evaluating its grants program and are continuing to work on developing an evidence base to support ongoing monitoring of cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, and other outcomes across the care continuum.

Health Care Quality

Additionally, Gresenz has been collaborating with José J. Escarce, M.D., Ph.D., of the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles, on research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The two are exploring how the percentage of people in a community who are uninsured affects access to and quality of health care among the community’s insured population.

Evidence suggests that it does so – negatively.

“Our recent research was the first to identify the substantial deleterious effects of the community uninsurance rate on the health care received by insured Americans using rigorous econometric methods,” Gresenz said. “We also extended earlier work by estimating these ‘spillover’ effects on not only working-age insured Americans but on seniors as well,” she said.

Gresenz noted that this issue is particularly important as the country continues to consider the health insurance reforms of the Affordable Care Act.

“If implemented, the Affordable Care Act will result in tens of millions of Americans who are currently uninsured gaining insurance coverage,” she said. “This will directly benefit the uninsured, but our work suggests that this will also have indirect and positive implications for the health care of those who are insured as well. Any complete accounting of the potential effects of the act would be remiss without consideration of the spillover effects on the insured.”

Gresenz and Escarce are continuing their work in this area by examining how the community uninsurance rate affects the awareness, treatment, and control of chronic health conditions among the insured.

A New Role for NHS

Iguchi and Cloonan also thanked Timothy Shannon (NHS’07) and his family for their gift to endow this professorship in honor of Bette Jacobs who served as the school’s dean from 1999-2010 and is currently a professor within the department.

Shannon is a graduate of the health care management & policy program and a member of the school’s Board of Advisors.

By Bill Cessato, GUMC Communications
(Published June 27, 2012)