Dollars and Data for Public Health

Posted 7th February 2019

What’s the most efficient way to fund health programs to deliver the best outcome?

This is a question Professor Don Shepard, Fullbright Distinguished Chair in Public Policy, has dedicated his life’s work to.

And at his inaugural Convocation lecture, he shared some of his experiences in the area of maternal and child mortality in Zimbabwe with the Carnegie Mellon University Masters students.

Professor Shepard told students that despite encouraging progress over the past two decades, maternal and child mortality remains unacceptably high in many low and middle-income countries.

Dr Don Shepard on central stage at his inaugural convocation lecture

n 28 of these countries, the World Bank Health Results Innovation Trust Fund and International Development Agency are implementing Results-based Financing (RBF) programs.

RBF seeks to improve the use and quality of known technologies through incentives to health providers and/or consumers for verified outcomes, an appealing combination of dollars and data. Using the terms “Pay for Performance” or “Performance-based Financing,” the US health care system and other international donors are using related approaches.

In a 3-year study funded by the World Bank, Professor Donald S. Shepard led the evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of RBF in Zimbabwe, combining information from household surveys, management information systems, an expert panel, and modeling software, to estimate RBF’s benefit and cost.

The convocation attracted notable external guests including Marco Baccanti, Chief Executive at Health Industries Government of South Australia

Professor Shepard is the 3rd recipient of the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Applied Public Policy which is jointly funded by CMU and Flinders University.

Professor Shepard has conducted many studies in health economics in the US, Australia, and globally. He was one of the developers of quality-adjusted life year (QALY), which has become an important tool for quantifying the impact and value for money of drugs, medical procedures, and health programs.

He is Professor at the Schneider Institutes for Health Policy at the Heller School, Brandeis University and Director of the Institutes' group on cost and value, he is the author of 3 books some 200 professional publications.