U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative

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J-PAL North America’s U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative (HCDI) supports randomized evaluations of strategies that aim to make health care delivery in the United States more efficient and more effective.

Research Funding

HCDI provides targeted funding for randomized impact evaluations that provide insights into which policies and programs are effective in improving health care delivery, and why. The initiative issues Requests for Proposals (RFPs) twice per year, with deadlines typically in February and September. Proposals facing substantial time constraints are accepted off-cycle. J-PAL affiliates, J-PAL post-doctoral fellows, invited researchers, and certain graduate students are eligible to apply for funding. Further details regarding HCDI’s RFPs can be found below.

HCDI directly supports US federal, state, and local government health agencies and other health care organizations in designing and implementing randomized evaluations of innovative programs through the Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition.

Spurring New Research

HCDI connects policymakers, practitioners, and researchers to spur policy-relevant research on key health care issues. The initiative hosts large matchmaking conferences, convenes small gatherings of policymakers and researchers, and facilitates partnership development conversations.

HCDI’s Review Paper, written by Amy Finkelstein and Sarah Taubman, explains the value of using randomized evaluations to improve US health care delivery. It includes a discussion of specific strategies and opportunities to use randomized controlled trials to evaluate health care programs. A shorter version of the paper was published in Science (only accessible to subscribers).

View a presentation that highlights key takeaways from the paper. Read coverage of the HCDI review paper in the New York Times and a Q&A with co-author Amy Finkelstein in the MIT News.

We've also put together a quiz of individual narratives from Oregonians who participated in the Medicaid lottery, describing their experience of how Medicaid affected their health care, financial security, and health. These are all true stories, but only half are consistent with the prevailing experience of most people. Try your hand at identifying which one aligns with the evidence here.

Capacity Building

HCDI builds the capacity of researchers, their staff, and collaborators at partner organizations to design and conduct high-quality randomized evaluations. As part of this effort, HCDI encourages best practices of research, including the registration of impact evaluations and the publication of data from funded evaluations.

Policy Outreach

J-PAL North America is committed to turning research into action. We share the results of funded evaluations with decision makers who choose policies, design programs, or decide how budgets are spent in order to direct funds toward evidence-based approaches and scale up programs that work. In health, this includes hospitals, policymakers at all levels of government, non-profit organizations, foundations, and social entrepreneurs. We translate academic research into accessible, salient communications such as policy briefs, online tools, evidence reviews, and workshops.

Read this policy briefcase on insuring the uninsured and check out this review of what we know about strategies to combat the opioid epidemic.

Funded projects

View a list of projects supported by HCDI.

Initiative Chair

J-PAL affiliate Amy Finkelstein (MIT)


For questions about HCDI, please email Anna Spier, Initiative Manager.

HCDI Request For Proposals (RFP)

The HCDI RFP solicits proposals from J-PAL affiliates, J-PAL post-docs, and invited researchers. To learn about HCDI funding opportunities for health agencies and health care organizations interested in designing and implementing randomized evaluations of innovative programs, please see the HCDI Innovation Competition.

HCDI RFP Materials - Last Updated 07/12/2018

Types of proposals:

  1. Full Research Projects: Full research projects are typically awarded between $150,000 and $250,000. Researchers must propose a clear and well-developed research question including detailed randomization design and power calculations according to relevant minimum detectable effect sizes. 
  2. Pilot Studies: Pilot studies are eligible for funding of $50,000 or less. Researchers should seek to answer a particular research question; however, the design and implementation require further testing and piloting. Random assignment does not necessarily need to occur during a pilot study. Proposals should explain how the pilot will lead to a randomized evaluation in the future.
  3. Short-Term Research Management (STReaM): STReaM is a new program that provides 3-6 months of research management support from J-PAL staff for either full studies or pilots. STReaM would come in addition to, and not as a substitute for, any funding that is awarded through the RFP. For more information about STReaM and to apply, please see the website or contact [email protected].
  4. Travel/Proposal Development Grants: Travel/proposal development grants are eligible for funding up to $5,000. These grants are to be used for early stage activities with the goal of launching a randomized evaluation in North America. 

Future rounds are expected to occur twice a year with deadlines in February and September. For time-sensitive research projects, J-PAL North America also accepts off-cycle proposals. We encourage pilot studies and travel/proposal development proposals facing time constraints to apply before the deadline. Decisions on these applications are typically made in about two weeks. 

Who may apply?

For all proposals, the pool of eligible applicants includes J-PAL affiliates, J-PAL post-docs, and invited researchers. Graduate students may apply for full research projects or pilot studies up to $50,000 if they both have a J-PAL affiliate on their thesis committee and either received a travel/proposal development grant from J-PAL for the specific project proposed or have documented evidence of successful piloting activities. All proposals may include collaborators outside of this network, but the principal investigator (PI) must be an eligible applicant.


July 12, 2018 - RFP Issued
September 28, 2018 - Proposal Submission Deadline
Week of November 26, 2018 - Results Announced 

Who will review applications?

Each proposal will be peer reviewed by one member of the Review Board and two researchers and/or policy experts not on the Review Board. The Review Board will meet to agree on final funding decisions.

Review Board

J-PAL affiliates Joseph Doyle (MIT), Amy Finkelstein (MIT), and Lawrence Katz (Harvard University)


This research initiative was launched with funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.