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Renowned Health Economist Joins YSPH

March 08, 2021
by Michael Greenwood

An acclaimed researcher and health economist with wide-ranging research expertise is joining the Yale School of Public Health and will chair its Department of Health Policy and Management.

Professor Jason Hockenberry, Ph.D., who has spent the past nine years at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta said he looks forward to working with a “stellar cadre” of faculty in the department, and at Yale in general, who are leaders in the national conversations on health and health care policy. Hockenberry officially joined the school in late January.

Hockenberry described his own research interests as multifaceted and diverse. His work falls into the three general areas:

  • First, the role that provider human capital plays in the outcomes and efficiency of health care delivery. Examples of his research in this area include how the pace of work affects surgical outcomes and resources used to achieve those outcomes, whether physicians respond to new evidence on treatment effectiveness, and to what degree nurse staffing mixes affect hospital care quality.
  • Second, mental health and substance use-related policy, and the spillover of these policies to other aspects of well-being. Examples of his research in this area include studies of the interplay between cannabis liberalization policies and the opioid epidemic and the role of financing and provider supply on treatment and non-health outcomes.
  • Third, health care financing-related policies, particularly how they might affect vulnerable populations. Examples of his research in this area include studies examining whether the movement toward pay for performance or value-based purchasing schemes has a disproportionate negative effect on safety-net providers, and what this might mean for the patient populations they serve.

“I am excited to be joining a group of faculty in YSPH’s Department of Health Policy and Management who make such substantial contributions to public health policy and health care management research and practice, all while providing world class educational experiences to the next generation of leaders,” he said. “I am humbled by the opportunity to serve in the role of chair and hopefully am able to do so in a way that allows us to expand our impact even further.”

Hockenberry started his Ph.D. at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, thinking he would work in some area of finance and innovation. He was particularly interested in venture capitalists’ behavior, and at the time data on that was scarce, so it was challenging but also fascinating.

But as he started to understand the challenges investors faced in assessing the health care landscape, he realized there were a lot of interesting questions on health care policy. And then, he got a chance to work with Shin-Yi Chou (a renowned health economist at Lehigh), and their conversations about health care economics and policy convinced Hockenberry that he was better suited to those areas of study.

Dean Sten H. Vermund hailed Hockenberry’s arrival at the Yale School of Public Health, and also praised Professor Mark Schlesinger, who served as the department’s acting chair for the past three years, for his “superb” service, and Professor Susan Busch, who directed the extensive search that led to Hockenberry.

We are very fortunate to have him and he will further distinguish the Yale School of Public Health with his immensely talented HPM colleagues.

Sten Vermund

“HPM will continue to thrive and lead in policy, management and health economics. Having Dr. Hockenberry’s leadership will be most welcome at this historic moment of public health need,” Vermund said. “We are very fortunate to have him and he will further distinguish the Yale School of Public Health with his immensely talented HPM colleagues.”

Schlesinger said that in addition to outstanding scholarship, Hockenberry also brings strong leadership skills and a strategic vision.

“In his time at Emory, Jason had demonstrated his capacity to think in creative and foresighted ways about how to enrich academic programs and how to connect them to resources from across the university. We look forward to joining in the process of incorporating a similar vision to the department and our school of public health,” he said.

One of the issues that Hockenberry plans to work on in the future is the opioid epidemic, which he sees as one of the defining health challenges of the past decade. While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken center stage for nearly a year, one of the lasting challenges once that is brought under control is the longer-term residual effects it will have had on these existing public health challenges around substance misuse and abuse, its treatment, and related policy, he said.

When he is not working in public health, Hockenberry said he spends time his family and exercising.

“I spend a lot of time with our two boys in sports activities, particularly baseball, [and] I enjoy weightlifting as a way to stave off the effects of my own aging,” he quipped. “In moments that I am not focused on work or day-to-day family stuff, I am usually daydreaming about family trips to the beach with our friends.”

Submitted by Ivette Aquilino on March 08, 2021