MIT's J-PAL North America launches Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition

CAMBRIDGE, MA – J-PAL North America has launched a new Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition that will support U.S. federal, state, and local health agencies and other health care organizations in developing compelling and reliable evidence of the impact of innovative programs.

The J-PAL Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition will support visionary health care leaders in rigorously evaluating programs that deploy health and social services to improve health outcomes and enhance the accessibility and affordability of quality health care. Through the competition, selected applicants will receive funding, on-the-ground technical support, and access to J-PAL’s network of affiliated professors from leading universities to help them design and implement randomized evaluations of their programs.

Supported by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the competition is a part of J-PAL North America’s U.S. Health Care Delivery Initiative, which supports randomized evaluations of strategies that aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health care in the United States.  To date, studies funded by the initiative include randomized evaluations of a pioneering care coordination program for high-utilizing patients in Camden, New Jersey; a flagship nurse-home visiting program in South Carolina; interventions providing cost and quality information to consumers on the California and Colorado health insurance exchanges; and a workplace wellness program at a large U.S. firm.

“Randomized evaluations are critical to understanding whether programs are truly effective,” said Jeffrey Brenner, Executive Director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers and the architect of the Link2Care care coordination program for high-need patients. “We had wanted to rigorously study the impact of our program for a long time. By ourselves, we didn’t have the technical expertise and the structure to be able to do it. We partnered with a team of J-PAL affiliated researchers to conduct a randomized evaluation of the program. Their expertise and support has been instrumental in making this happen.”

“Too often, health care leaders are forced to make important decisions without the benefit of rigorous evidence. Randomized evaluations can be an extremely effective tool to answer key policy questions and assess promising solutions to critical challenges,” said Amy Finkelstein, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT and co-Scientific Director of J-PAL North America. Finkelstein, who will chair the competition, was a principal investigator on the groundbreaking Oregon Health Insurance Experiment, a randomized evaluation of the impact of Medicaid coverage.

“The high cost of health care threatens the well-being of millions of Americans and imposes a great strain on public sector budgets. Understanding how we can improve the quality and efficiency of health care programs is critical, particularly in providing care to the poor,” said Quentin Palfrey, Executive Director of J-PAL North America. “Health care leaders are innovating to address this challenge, and we at J-PAL are excited to support them in rigorously evaluating what works, for which populations, and why.”

Selected applicants to the competition will have access to flexible pilot funding of up to $50,000 to help launch a randomized evaluation, as well as technical assistance from J-PAL staff on study design and feasibility and strategic consulting from J-PAL’s network of leading academic researchers. Applicants that successfully partner with a researcher from J-PAL’s network to design a high-quality randomized evaluation can apply for funding, typically in the range of $150,000 to $400,000, to carry out the evaluation.

Applications to the competition are due on June 17, 2016, and winners will be announced by July 15, 2016. J-PAL North America will be hosting webinars on April 15, 2016, from 10 am-11 am EST and on May 19, 2016, from 2 pm-3 pm EST to provide an introduction to the competition, review the application process, and respond to questions.


Contact: Competition Manager Jason Bauman, J-PAL North America

J-PAL North America was established in 2013 to improve the effectiveness of social programs in the region through three core activities: research, policy outreach, and capacity building.