Whether your program was implemented recently or has been running for years, determining how — and how well — it works can be worthwhile. An evaluation from the experts at the Center for Health Policy and Research can reveal opportunities for you to improve care, enhance efficiency, and reduce costs — or it can validate your current course of action.

Assessments lead to program improvement

Our team measures program processes and outcomes to determine which elements are working well, which need improvement, and why the program works the way it does. We also conduct studies to evaluate your program implementation process and preliminary outcomes. Our process evaluations are essential, as they can reveal the underlying reasons for certain outcomes. For example, we identify aspects of workflow that may produce bottlenecks and barriers for the execution of the program.

Because we serve such a wide range of clients, we have developed the ability to work seamlessly with stakeholders and resolve differences between individuals, groups, and organizations with diverse interests and viewpoints. We believe that developing effective working relationships among all parties produces better evaluations.

In addition to their own experience and training as evaluators and their expertise in health care, evaluators at the Center for Health Policy and Research have access to the extensive knowledge of colleagues in the UMass Medical School departments of Medicine, Family Medicine, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Quantitative Health Sciences.

Evaluation methods

In the process of conducting a program evaluation, our team uses the following approaches:

  • Combining qualitative and quantitative evaluation techniques
  • Convening focus groups
  • Developing program logic models
  • Using statistical techniques to analyze quantitative data
  • Conducting key informant interviews
  • Drawing on stakeholder input to enhance our understanding of evaluation data

Our evaluations can include any or all of the following elements:

  • Database analysis
    • Medicaid claims database
    • All-payer claims database
    • Agency/program service delivery data
    • Electronic medical records
    • Relevant publicly available databases, such as vital records or census data
  • Qualitative data collection using qualitative coding software that can identify themes from interview and focus group information
  • Surveys conducted by evaluation staff members or by survey experts in the Center for Health Policy and Research's survey unit
  • Logic models to show the organization and delivery of service
    • For organizations launching a new service
    • As framework for evaluation
  • Economic evaluation
    • Cost-effectiveness analysis
    • Benefit-cost analysis
    • Return on Investment

Evaluation projects

The Center for Health Policy and Research provides evaluation services for a wide range of clients. For example, the team's current work with Massachusetts Medicaid (MassHealth) involves informing the development of new programs and determining whether existing programs are achieving their goals. Examples include the following:

  • MassHealth Demonstration to Integrate Care for Dual Eligible Individuals
  • 1115 waiver expansion for the Safety Net Hospital initiative
  • CHIPRA (Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act) five-year demonstration grant
  • Massachusetts Patient-Centered Medical Home Initiative
  • Statewide expansion of the Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment program

In addition to our work with Medicaid, we also count these Massachusetts state agencies among our clients:

  • Department of Mental Health
  • Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
  • Department of Public Health
  • Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development

We are using MassHealth data for a utilization and cost analysis project for the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program.

Several of our projects have been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

  • Cost, Benefit and Regulation of Buprenorphine Treatment for Medicaid Beneficiaries., National Institute on Drug Abuse, Robin Clark, Principal Investigator
  • The Quality of Buprenorphine Treatment for Medicaid Beneficiaries, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Jeffrey Baxter, Principal Investigator
  • Barriers to Health Care for Pregnant Disabled Women, National Institute on Maternal and Child Health, Monica Mitra, Principal Investigator
  • Public Financing and Treatment for Co-occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Robin Clark, Principal Investigator
  • Improving Treatment for Medicaid Beneficiaries with Co-Occurring Disorders, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Robin Clark, Principal Investigator
  • The impact of buprenorphine on Medicaid expenditures. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Robin Clark, Principal Investigator