Why did you choose to enroll in the HPE program?
I’m currently in the last year of my fellowship at the NewYork Presbyterian Hospital. My plan is to look for an academic position in gastroenterology in the New York area. Once I am finished, I want to join a clinical practice and I would also like to continue doing research and teaching. Having gone through medical school, I have acquired a strong knowledge in pathophysiology of disease but not much about policy, especially from the health economics perspective. With the rapid changes in the US healthcare system, I thought this program would be a great learning opportunity.
I was lucky to hear about the program when it first started at the hospital a few years ago. I looked at some other programs, but none had both health economics and health policy. This program is unique to offer those two perspectives. In addition, the program was very convenient for me because of the location.
Can you discuss the thesis project you’re working on as part of the HPE program?
My thesis project is looking at the cost-effectiveness of different medications for a gastrointestinal condition called inflammatory bowel disease. We are trying to determine with our treatment algorithm the most cost-effective approach for pharmacological therapeutics. Basically, we are asking which option will give the best bang for the money to treat this disease, since the new medications are incredibly expensive. To give you an example: I’ve found that for patients who fail the first-line therapy, choosing a second drug from the same class is more cost-effective than switching to a different class of drug. Generally, if a patient treatment doesn’t work, they might give up and try to switch to a different approach. However, it turns out that this approach is less effective and more costly. I think these findings will certainly shape gastroenterology practice. In doing this project, I have picked up tools that I can apply far beyond health policy.
What have you most enjoyed about the HPE program?
I enjoyed the diversity of backgrounds of the students. A few of us are physicians, some have economics backgrounds, others health policy, computer science and IT. It was a really cool mix of people. This mix allowed us to learn from each other. So even though I’m one of the people closest to the day-to-day practice of medicine, I learnt from class mates that are in health insurance companies or had had internships in the government agencies. In addition to this peer-learning, I have learnt a lot from the professors and faculty mentors. They are a fantastic group of people that are available anytime; they are approachable and responsive. I think they genuinely care about us, and I really appreciate that.
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