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Arnold School of Public Health

Health Services Policy & Management

Faculty members within the Department of Health Services Policy and Management (HSPM) conducts research on a wide range of topics. Browse their areas of research expertise, which are organized by the specialties of individual faculty members.  

Faculty Research Areas

Christina Andrews, PhD

Dr. Andrews' research interests include the impact of the organization and financing of substance use disorder treatment on service access, with a particular focus on public insurance coverage for substance use disorder. She is currently Principal Investigator on two R01 grants assessing the effects of Medicaid managed care on access to alcohol use disorder treatment and opioid use disorder treatment. Dr. Andrews is also Director of the Data Analytics Core of the South Carolina Center of Excellence in Addiction.

John Brooks, PhD  

Dr. Brooks is a health economist with a focus on estimating treatment effectiveness using observational healthcare databases. He is the Director of the Center for Effectiveness Research in Orthopaedics (CERortho) which is a collaborative effort between USC and Prisma Health to promote comparative effectiveness research (CER) in orthopaedic care. CERortho enables methodologists and clinicians in a large dynamic healthcare system to create prospective data collection platforms and develop innovative methods in treatment effectiveness research. 

Brian Chen, JD, PhD

Dr. Chen’s research interest lies in examining the legal and economic influences on healthcare delivery and their ultimate impact on health outcomes. Dr. Chen is particularly interested in investigating how food and drug laws, as well as financial interests from drug prescriptions, influence the quantity and manner in which prescription drugs are prescribed to patients. As prescription medications continue to be a significant part of healthcare delivery, Dr. Chen focuses his research agenda on assessing the choices and consequences associated with explicit and implicit policies surrounding prescription medications.

J. Alton Crocker, III, PhD, MA

Dr. Croker's research aims at a deeper understanding of how minoritized identity (i.e., race, ethnicity, age, HIV status, LGBQ identity) influences health behaviors in order to inform policies that promote health among vulnerable groups across the lifespan. Presently, Dr. Croker's research examines the relationship between minoritized identity and polysubstance use (i.e., tobacco, cannabis, and alcohol products), particularly among adolescents and emerging adults (AEA), and among older adults living with HIV. Dr. Croker's long-term research interests aim at reducing health disparities (including tobacco related morbidity, mortality, and substance abuse) for people of color, LGBT people, AEA, and older PLWH through individual health promotion, harm reduction, and multi-level policy interventions. Dr. Croker has extensive expertise in direct patient engagement, program evaluation, and in building cross-disciplinary models of care to promote service quality and improve patient experience.

Elizabeth Crouch, PhD

Dr. Crouch is the HSPM Program Director for the Master of Public Health (MPH) Program and Director of the Rural and Minority Health Research Center. Dr. Crouch was recognized with the 2023 Outstanding Researcher Award from the National Rural Health Association.

Nicole L. Hair, PhD

Dr. Hair is an economist whose research focuses on understanding the relationships between poverty, health, and human capital. Her current research examines socioeconomic differences in childhood health and access to health care, programs to improve childhood vaccination coverage, and the potential for public health intervention to promote more equal opportunity for disadvantaged children. Dr. Hair was named a 2022-2023 Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR) Scientist by the University of Southern California Schaffer Center. 

Peiyin Hung, PhD

Dr. Hung's primary research interests include rural health disparity, quality of care, spatial access to health services, and women health. Her research focuses on geographic disparities in hospital services and quality of health care at the national, state, and institutional levels. Dr. Hung specializes in quantitative methods, using surveys and administrative data, along with econometrics to understand the effects of organizational structure, clinical, and policy intervention. The USC Office of Research honored Dr. Hung with the 2023 Breakthrough Star Award.

Chen Liang, PhD

Dr. Liang's research interest focuses on the development and application of data science, informatics, and artificial intelligence that led to a safe and intelligent health system. His recent work involves heterogeneous health data integration, Electronic Health Records (EHR) based phenotyping and data mining, medical knowledge representation, EHR-based machine learning and predictive modeling, and clinical natural language processing. Dr. Liang was selected to join Data and Technology Advancement (DATA) National Service Scholar Program and selected as a Fellow of the American Medical Informatic Association (AMIA) in 2022. 

Melinda A. Merrell, PhD, MPH

Dr. Merrell directs HSPM’s MHA program (both traditional and executive tracks). Her research interests include the delivery of health care in U.S. rural communities, with specific focus areas of rural hospital closures and emergency medicine. She also has an interest in the intersection of social determinants of health and health-seeking behaviors among rural populations. Her other areas of expertise are in community health development, program planning and evaluation, and non-profit management.

Nabil Natafgi, PhD, MPH, CPH

Dr. Natafgi is the Associate Director of the USC Patient Engagement Studio (PES). His work is focused on evaluating the effectiveness and impact of telehealth applications on care delivery and outcomes as well as the methodologies of engagement patients in research. Dr. Natafgi co-led two PCORI-funded projects that use technology to engage patients and caregivers in the development, implementation, and dissemination of research projects. His research encompasses both quantitative and qualitative analyses, with emphasis on mixed-methods and a special interest in the engagement of patients and stakeholders. 

Bankole Olatosi, PhD

Dr. Olatosi's research interests are in the fields of Health Analytics, HIV/AIDS, and COVID-19. Currently, he is funded by NIH to study HIV treatment gaps, viral suppression, and the COVID-19 pandemic in South Carolina by applying data science to statewide electronic health records population data. His work in these two areas is instrumental in understanding how big data science can advance important discoveries in disease surveillance, transmission, natural history, and progression important for treatment and necessary for targeted intervention purposes in the state. He co-leads the National Big Data Health Science Center. He is also the incoming Chair-elect of the National Board of the Commission for Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME).

Jan Ostermann, PhD

Dr. Ostermann’s research interests are health preferences, improving the wellbeing of children in adversity, estimating the costs of individual health behaviors, and informing health care supply and regulation. Dr. Ostermann has been awarded $374K from the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center. In collaboration with Bernard Njau (Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre) and Nathan Thielman (Duke University School of Medicine), he will use the five-year R21/R33 grant to test the effectiveness of a new approach to increase HIV testing rates in Tanzania: pairing mHealth technology with social networks.

Lauren Workman, PhD

Dr. Workman is the Associate Director at the Center for Applied Research & Evaluation (CARE). Dr. Workman is a community engaged researcher and evaluator.  She uses qualitative methods, implementation science, and evaluation frameworks to support community partners in improving health. Much of Dr. Workman’s funded work is focused on programs to support vulnerable children and families.    

Brad Wright, PhD

Dr. Wright's research focuses on inequities in health care delivery, with an emphasis on publicly insured populations (i.​e.​, Medicare, and Medicaid), primary care, and emergency medicine. He is one of the nation's leading experts on both federally qualified health centers and hospital observation stays.  His additional research interests include health politics and policy, and patient and public involvement in health care. He has received funding for his research from the National Institutes of Health (specifically NIMHD, NINDS, and NIA), the U.​S.​ Department of Veterans Affairs, HRSA, the Iowa Department of Human Services, and multiple private foundations. 

Sudha Xirasagar, MBBS, PhD

Dr. Xirasagar’s research focuses on the impact of health services on patient outcomes, specifically, colorectal cancer prevention, colorectal surgical conditions, acute ischemic stroke, and interventional approaches to universal primary health care use.

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