University of Southern California

Meeting the Demands of Care
Marshall, Schaeffer Center and VEBA Foundation Partner on Health Care Initiative
January 10, 2014 • by News at Marshall

Billions of dollars are wasted every year on inappropriate or unnecessary medical care. To help address the issue, USC’s Marshall School of Business and the Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics have partnered with the California Schools VEBA and the California Coalition of Employee Benefit Plan Sponsors (The CO-OP) to promote research into making health care delivery more efficient and effective. As part of the Medical Appropriateness Project (MAP), the two high-ranking schools will be performing statistical research and analysis in order to pinpoint best practices and areas that need further study.

The MAP Foundation, which grew out of the California Schools Voluntary Employees Benefit Association (VEBA), created the initiative to collect and analyze health care claims from more than 100,000 members within Southern California in alliance with benefit providers. The goal? To improve quality and reduce health care premiums for its members by 20 to 30 percent in the next three years and offer solutions for the health care industry overall.

“We needed a way to identify best practices so we came up with the MAP. By working with the Schaeffer Center and Marshall we can ensure the data is accurate and secure; and by using the claims data researchers can identify which anomalies and trends need more in-depth analysis, and we can work with our stakeholders and health care providers to improve quality and reduce costs,” said Janice Cook, a long-time VEBA board member and former school superintendent, who is serving as CEO of the California Schools VEBA Medical Appropriateness Project. “The expertise and the ability of the Marshall School of Business to analyze the data and the focus of the Schaeffer Center are a perfect match. They’re interested in what we’re doing and together are the best vehicles to look at data through the same lens we’re trying to look at data.”

USC’s involvement came about through Marshall alumni and MAP board members George McGregor MBA ’08, president and CEO, of McGregor & Associates — a leading California health benefits administrator — and general manager of VEBA, and Paul Bergman MBA ’04, director/shared services at McGregor and president of the USC-Marshall Alumni Association.

The ability to gather information from both the provider and consumer sides of the health care industry and test findings in real-world experiments is particularly salient to Tom Chang, assistant professor of finance and business administration at Marshall, who is coordinating efforts between the foundation, business school and Schaeffer.

“Usually when you work on the efficiencies of health care you either work on the supply side or the demand side. The potential to do things like run experiments that combine aspects of both the supply and demand side, studying how changing both in conjunction might have effects we might miss when we do one side or the other, is very exciting,” said Chang, who is working with Professor Dana Goldman, who holds the Norman Topping/National Medical Enterprises Chair in Medicine and is public policy/director of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics,.

“Since it’s a joint venture between California Unified and the health care administrators you can potentially do things that get consumers to ask more questions and become more efficient on both the care and the demand side. We can try things jointly with doctors and patients to create a greater impact than if we tried to pull any one of those levers independently.”

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.