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About Us

The Johns Hopkins Primary Care Policy Center (PCPC) was established in October 1996 with funding from the federal Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC).

The BPHC supports the PCPC to conduct short-term policy and long-term applied policy research that can help inform public policymaking in health care.

The Center combines the research base of the University with the practical experience of faculty, staff, consultants, and students.

The PCPC engages in research, analysis, and education concerning the organization, financing, and mode of delivery for health care, particularly to underserved and vulnerable populations.

The PCPC was founded by Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, and Leiyu Shi, DrPh; Dr. Shi is the director of the PCPC.

The goals of the Center are to conduct policy-relevant research that will provide insight into the effects of public and private health care policy on primary care for medically underserved individuals; expand knowledge on the most effective and cost-effective methods for health centers to deliver primary care to vulnerable populations; and increase our understanding of the effects of alternative financing and organizational arrangements on primary care delivery for populations served by health centers.

In addition, the PCPC also conducts regular training for health care professionals, including hospital CEOs, public health officers, and public health educators, on a variety of topics, including health care delivery, hospital management, quality of health care, and health care systems design and improvement.

To meet these goals, the Center investigators and staff conduct timely policy analyses and white papers; develop and test primary care assessment tools; design and implement quality of care, case-mix, outcome, and cost-effectiveness studies; and initiate more in-depth, longer-term research projects on the most salient policy and research areas in primary care.

The PCPC brings very significant levels of expertise in virtually all key domains of health care content and methods likely to be relevant to these goals. The technical/analytic methods areas where our Center has extensive background include:

  • Assessment of the adequacy of primary health care and primary care, both normatively as well as comparatively
  • Program evaluation
  • Design of demonstration studies
  • Health services research methods
  • Survey research
  • Technology assessment
  • Economic analysis/CBA-CEA
  • Management sciences/operations research
  • Behavioral sciences
  • Information technology
  • Case studies and qualitative assessment
  • Clinical/quality analysis
  • Social science methods
  • Biostatistics/epidemiology
  • Medical, nursing and pharmacy sciences

Our team's content areas of expertise are too numerous to list, but some of the key areas include:

  • Managed care and health insurance
  • Disease management and population health
  • Primary/ambulatory care
  • Inpatient and intensive care
  • Mental health/behavioral health services
  • Risk adjustment and case mix
  • Cost of care (effectiveness/efficiency/outcomes)
  • Quality/performance improvement/TQM
  • Patient safety and medical errors
  • Health promotion/prevention
  • Vulnerable populations/access/disparities
  • Special age/gender groups (children, adolescents, the elderly, women, men)
  • Public health insurance programs (Medicare/Medicaid/S-CHIP)
  • Long-term care/home care
  • Pharmacy programs
  • Consumer involvement/outreach
  • Provider incentives and behaviors

Examples of data sets that have been analyzed through the PCPC in the past include:

  • Health center data: BCRR, UDS, CHC User Survey, CHC Visit Survey, Sentinel Centers Network database
  • Government-sponsored national datasets: Hospital Discharge Survey, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, Area Resource File, National Health Interview Survey, National Health Care Survey, National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, National Hospital Ambulatory Care Survey, SLAITS, vital statistics, Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 
  • Foundation-sponsored national datasets: RWJ's Community Tracking Study, Kaiser's National Surveys

On an as-needed basis, Dr. Shi will call upon faculty and researchers in the PCPC and the University for assistance. Content and methods experts in virtually all areas can be brought in as consultants, depending on the final scope of the projects selected. (This includes clinical experts in all medical specialties from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.)

Below, we provide selected previous work of the PCPC, which demonstrates our experience with designing, coding, testing, evaluating, and documenting all aspects of health research.

  • Provided in-depth information about the performance of existing primary health care delivery systems (e.g., health centers and programs for homeless and other special populations)
  • Assisted in informed decision making (e.g., making sense of the myriad ways that managed care affects health centers and their population)
  • Developed methods to address emerging unmet needs of the underserved using health centers (e.g., development of tools for use by health center staff to identify unmet needs of clients)
  • Helped the BPHC design and carry out activities to improve the delivery of high quality primary care services and clinical care.

A sample of the completed activities include:

  • Preventive services provided by HCs
  • Sustainability of HCs
  • Managed care and HCs
  • Comparison of HC visit survey with NAMCS and NHAMCS
  • Integrated service networks/AMCs and HCs
  • Community boards and influence on decision making at HCs
  • Framework for evaluation of the State-CHIP program
  • Evaluation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program: state database and tracking
  • Quality of primary care
  • Assessing the quality of primary care by children
  • Income equity, primary care, and health outcomes
  • Development and validating of the Primary Care Assessment Tools (adult and child versions)

Related Websites

Bureau of Primary Health Care
Children's Health Insurance Program
Children's Defense Fund
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices