Kevin Volpp

September 1, 2006

Kevin Volpp is a core investigator at the Veterans Administration Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion and attending physician at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center. In addition, he is an assistant professor of medicine and an assistant professor of health care systems at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a senior fellow with the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. His research has focused on the impact of financial and organizational changes on patient outcomes and quality, and the effects of financial incentives on patient utilization of preventive services.

Volpp is currently working on several projects addressing financial stress in hospitals and quality of care. He is also studying the impact of hours worked by interns and residents on rates of medical errors and outcomes and leading a project funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to reduce disparities in hypertension treatment by comparing the efficacy and cost effectiveness of an intervention employing patient pay for performance and computerized behavioral intervention.

Volpp's HCFO grant, awarded in 2001, examined the impact of market-based reforms on the quality of hospital care. Specifically, Volpp and colleagues examined outcomes for patients in New Jersey after implementation of a 1992 law that changed hospital payment from a regulated system based on hospital costs to a system based on price competition. Volpp and colleagues found that the change in payment structure resulted in a leveling off of net revenues per patient, decreased hospital net income, and r educed subsidies for uncompensated care. They also found that hospital payment changes in New Jersey were associated with a relative increase in mortality for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI), congestive heart failure, and stroke. Especially among uninsured patients. A relative decrease in cardiac procedure use for uninsured patients was associated with increased mortality for uninsured patients with AMI. There were no consistent effects on quality of care across other conditions studied. Less competitive hospital markets were significantly associated with smaller relative increases in mortality than were more competitive markets.

In follow-up work, Volpp and colleagues examined whether the New Jersey market-based reform exacerbated underlying racial disparities in outcomes. They found that while black patients with AMI had a relative increase of mortality larger than for whites, for six other conditions there were no significant differences in the degree to which white and black mortality changed. There was also no consistent evidence of larger relative increases in mortality for blacks by insurance type. The researchers' findings suggest that some market-based reforms may adversely affect mortality for some conditions, especially for black patients, the uninsured, and those in more competitive markets.

Volpp received the Presidential Early Career Scientist Award (PECASE), which is the highest award given by the US Government to early career scientists for "innovative research, which is at the frontiers of science and technology." He has also received the Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Society of General Internal Medicine (SGIM). Volpp received an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.D. and Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management from the University of Pennsylvania.

For more information on Kevin Volpp and a list of selected publications, see