Heller Profiles

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Taroon Amin

USA • Senior Advisor, National Quality Forum

PhD '15

Strength in health finance and delivery transformation draws student to Heller

Taroon Amin struggles with questions of how to lower costs without affecting quality or access to care

“In my opinion, access to a good advisor is the most important factor to consider when choosing a graduate program,” according to fourth-year Heller doctoral student and health concentrator Taroon Amin. His advisor, Jennifer Perloff, PhD '06, has steered him to appropriate courses and provided strong mentoring on his research.

“I also think that students considering Heller should be creative, independent thinkers who have an appreciation for the macro environment and who have at least some advanced research experience,” he says when he considers who the next generation of Heller students should be.

Amin, currently working at the National Quality Forum (NQF), honed his passion for health care finance and quality through a series of experiences as a Lean/Six Sigma Blackbelt and finance analyst at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Amin completed a cross-national comparison of health care and development economic policies from Beijing, China and Ahmedabad, India, and examined social welfare programs in Europe at Sciences Po in Paris. This work pointed him toward graduate school and he obtained a master’s degree from Columbia University.

Amin’s interests lighted on quality and finance as he observed the challenges involved in running large academic teaching hospitals. His main fascination became the intersection of social sector work and business principles.

Dr. John Rowe, prominent geriatrician and former Chief of Aetna Insurance, Inc., whom Amin had taken a course from in health care and pharmaceutical policy at Columbia University, recommended that Amin speak with Professors Stuart Altman and Stanley Wallack.  Altman and Wallack, well-known Heller School faculty and players on the national and state health care reform scene, piqued Amin’s interest to look more deeply into the Heller School’s doctoral program.

What he found along with Altman and Wallack were prominent researchers, such as Chris Tompkins, M.M.H.S. '82, Ph.D. '91, who focused on hospital-based purchasing systems and cutting readmissions, and Connie Horgan, whose work on behavioral health has been important to Amin. That solidified Amin’s interest in the health care concentration at the Heller School and he followed up by applying, gaining admission, and receiving the prestigious Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) training fellowship.

Amin says he was looking for a program focused on developing practical solutions to some of the most challenging health care cost issues, particularly  cost increases.  So the fact that Heller School researchers are leaders in design and development of value-based purchasing initiatives sealed the deal.

And when Amin arrived at Heller, he says, “the collaborative, supportive environment in a cross-disciplinary context and the non-competitive atmosphere contributed to my and other students' learning.”  But he adds that the scholarly rigor is the element that makes sure that students are truly equipped with skills to make a difference in the complex world of health care reform.

It was this holistic understanding of the delivery system, the organizational behavior and financing that comes within a strong analytic foundation, that created the perfect fit for Amin. “The connections that faculty have and share are also ones that provide great career opportunity,” he adds.

While at Heller, Amin has had the opportunity to work on research such as episode groupers, health innovation zones, and resource use reports for Medicare. And his dissertation will evaluate the relationship between resource use and quality using the Patient-Centered Episode System (PACES) methodology, recently developed for Medicare in a variety of disease categories.

As Amin struggles with the questions about making sure cost reduction does not jeopardize quality or access to appropriate care and while he awaits federal approvals for his dissertation data collection, he is happily ensconced at the National Quality Forum in Washington, DC, where he is a Senior Director providing leadership to the Division of Performance Measures.

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