Ali Jalali, Hao Zhang and Austin Kilaru Awarded Sixth Cycle of CHERISH Pilot Grant Funding

Ali Jalali, PhD

Dr. Ali Jalali is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medical College. He completed his doctorate in economics at the University of Utah. His current research focuses on economic evaluations of interventions for substance use disorders and related conditions. His pilot grant will examine healthcare resource utilization patterns and Medicaid costs for pregnant women with opioid use disorder, infants with and without exposure to opioids in utero, and infants with and without neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS). He will use data from the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS), which will provide the opportunity to generate nationally representative Medicaid unit costs for healthcare services. This study will address knowledge gaps regarding pregnant women with opioid use disorder and their infants, and will be the first study to provide Medicaid healthcare resource unit cost estimates for these women and infants for future economic evaluations.

Hao Zhang, PhD

Dr. Hao Zhang is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Weill Cornell Medical College. He completed his doctorate in health services research at Texas A &M University focusing on econometric models and policy analysis. His current research centers on evaluating opioid-related policies and his pilot grant will examine the effect of changes in opioid prescribing practices on patients with metastatic bone cancer and patients with sickle cell disease who may be undertreated for pain. His study will assess trends in rates of emergency department visits, emergency department initiated opioid prescriptions, and costs among these populations using the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI) claims database, a national dataset of commercially insured and Medicare Advantage individuals. This study will generate new knowledge regarding pain management, access to opioid therapies, and costs among patient populations at risk for under treated pain.

Austin Kilaru, MD, MSHP

Dr. Austin Kilaru is a Fellow in the National Clinicians Scholars Program and Attending Physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and an Associate Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. As part of his fellowship he has received training in health services research and his research has focused on financial incentives to improve on opioid use disorder treatment systems within hospitals. His pilot grant will examine adherence to medications for opioid use disorder (buprenorphine and methadone) following an opioid related emergency department visit. He will explore the association between adherence and co-payment or out-of-pocket costs and the association between treatment discontinuation and repeated opioid-related emergency department use. He will use the Optum Clinformatics Datamart, a national commercial claims dataset. This study will have policy implications for payers and providers that seek to expand access to opioid use disorder treatment.