Ivan Allen College Expands Interdisciplinary Approach to Healthcare Policy and Economics

Posted September 25, 2023

Experts say healthcare in the United States is costly, unequal, and increasingly high-tech. For instance, Americans spend double per capita on healthcare than other wealthy countries, Black people are more likely to die from cancer than white people even though they do not have higher rates of the disease, and experts expect the artificial intelligence healthcare market to grow by 37% by 2030.

This combination of factors makes the U.S. healthcare system difficult to navigate and regulate. Georgia Tech’s School of Economics and School of Public Policy are working to change that. 

This year, the two Schools launched a joint Health Policy and Economics minor in which students explore topics such as artificial intelligence in healthcare and stem cell science, policy, and ethics. Now, the Schools are further expanding their health specialization with the new Health Economics and Policy Innovation Collaborative (HEPIC).

“The idea behind HEPIC is to promote research among the current generation of scholars while training the next generation,” said Economics Professor Jason Lindo. “The collaborative will involve researchers at many career stages, from students to junior and senior faculty members, and encourage mentoring among them.”

Lindo’s work focuses on youth and families, including several recent studies quantifying the effects of changes in access to reproductive healthcare. He will direct the HEPIC lab, working with fellow economics faculty members Assistant Professor Mayra Pineda-Torres, who studies how women’s access to reproductive health care affects their health, educational, and economic outcomes, Assistant Professor Cici McNamara, who specializes in the effects of financial incentives and competition on healthcare market outcomes, and Assistant Professor Daniel Dench, who recently examined how access to in-person care affects birth outcomes and the effect of e-cigarettes on birth outcomes. 

Public Policy faculty in the collaborative include Assistant Professor Lindsey Bullinger, who studies how public policies affect child and family health and well-being among low-income families, and Assistant Professor Ashley Bradford, who studies the economics of risky behaviors and substance use, with an emphasis on how public policies shape health outcomes within the United States.

The interdisciplinary group of researchers will use advanced data analytics to answer pressing health-related questions, such as how changes in access to healthcare affect outcomes, how economic circumstances and health are linked, and the effects of local, state, and national health policies.

“Research on these topics is critical because policy-makers need to be able to draw upon data to assess current circumstances and understand how to improve them,” Lindo said.

Students working in the lab will have the opportunity to see how faculty approach these issues differently, Lindo explained, and will get to take part in the research process, from idea generation to wrestling with roadblocks to writing papers for public dissemination. 

Through HEPIC and the new Health Policy and Economics Minor, the two Schools use an interdisciplinary approach to help students, faculty, and alumni tackle healthcare questions around the ethical use of new technology and the high costs and inequality plaguing the system today.

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The CODA Building in Tech Square will be home to IAC's new Health Economics and Policy Innovation Collaborative.

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Di Minardi

Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts