Ben Silver


Ben Silver, PhD candidate in Health Services Research (HSR), successfully defended his dissertation, titled "Effects of Medicare Medical Review on Short-stay Inpatient Hospital Use, Costs, and Patient Outcomes."

Tell us about your time at Brown. What did you enjoy most about being a doctoral student here?

Brown was by far my top choice as I was applying to graduate programs and it did not disappoint. The opportunity to work with the faculty at the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research, especially Vince Mor who ultimately became my advisor, was very exciting. During my time here, I had the opportunity to collaborate on several interesting projects both at Brown and the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Providence. These projects were by far my favorite part of my time at Brown. All of the faculty and staff were a pleasure to work with, as were my classmates and my other colleagues. The research was interesting, and senior faculty go out of their way to offer us new opportunities and to help us learn and expand our abilities in the process.

What public health issues do you hope to address through your dissertation?

My dissertation examines the effects of Medicare's cost reduction efforts on use of inpatient admission for short-stay hospital visits. Cost reduction is going to be essential to the future of the Medicare program, and the debate between using inpatient and observation level hospital care for short-stay patients has been one of the focal points of this effort. My results show that for patients who enter the emergency department with non-specific chest pain, treating under observation can be a useful cost savings measure without adversely impacting patient outcomes. I also found that the Medicare program successfully reduced the rate of inpatient admission for these patients by way of a program known as Medical Review. There is a great deal more to explore in this area, and my hope is that this research will aid the Medicare program in its cost reduction efforts in the face of the ever-increasing healthcare needs of the Baby Boom generation.

What are your future plans now that you have finished your PhD?

 I'm very excited to be joining RTI International as a Research Health Economist in the Health Care Financing and Payment Program.