Monday, January 23, 2017

Capstone 2016 – Lauren Stevens

Presented December 15, 2016, Lauren Steven’s Capstone analyzed visit severities of a level-one, urban trauma center. As a large percentage of Americans rely on emergency departments (EDs) for non-emergent or primary care visits, the misuse can lead to longer wait times, physician shortages, patient overcrowding and unnecessary increased costs of care.

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many—who previously could not afford or were denied coverage—now have access to health insurance. Medicaid expansion also helped bridge some of the affordable access to care gaps.

To shed light on ED utilization situation, Lauren’s project work leveraged a New York University (NYU) Emergency Department Algorithm (EDA) for examining ED case patterns. Additionally, she studied differences in ED use pre- and post-ACA to understand how changes in affordability may have shifted utilization. Lauren observed:

  • Increased utilization of healthcare with either insurance or Medicaid coverage.
  • High levels of ED utilization for non-emergent care.
  • Higher utilization of the ED by low-income and minority populations.
  • An increase from 69% non-emergent patient visits pre-ACA to 77% post-ACA.

Lauren’s research suggests that ED misuse is a significant issue. Public health can, however, help if policy and education efforts are focused on promoting utilization of a primary care physician for treatment of non-emergent or chronic illnesses which make up the bulk of cases currently seen in the ED.

Learn more about Lauren's Capstone experience. 

Left to Right: Asra Khalid, Brittany Lee,
Lauren Stevens and Deborah Manst

Why did you choose to pursue an MPH? 

A health science studies major, I have a Bachelor’s in Education from Baylor University in Waco, TX. Wanting to be a better informed medical school applicant, I looked first to Loyola’s MPH program. I chose the epidemiology track because of my interest in human diseases as an undergraduate. I am now in the process of applying to medical schools. 

What led you to your topic?  

As an undergraduate, I scribed in an emergency room. So, when Dr. Markossian and Dr. Probst asked for help from a public health student in analyzing ER data, I knew I’d be a good fit. After the initial presentation of data, we then wanted to add additional findings that would set our project apart. My Capstone was a natural progression using the NYU EDA. Sifting through the data was definitely challenging, but also a rewarding, collaborative effort. 

What was your biggest accomplishment while in the program?

My biggest accomplishment was seeing the research I had been working with throughout the past year come together. I was also able to present a few projects at the national American Public Health Association (APHA) Conference, which was an amazing experience. Seeing so many people so passionate about numerous public health issues was eye opening. 

What did you enjoy about the project? 

I liked uncovering potential areas for public health improvement and how real world issues are addressed by the Capstone. It is not just a project, it has real potential to make contributions to public health.

A student’s Capstone project is a professional presentation, which demonstrates his/her ability to apply the program learning to a specific public health topic. Selected by the student, the project reflects a culmination of the course curriculum, field experience and independent study. This experience helps students explore their academic passions while preparing them for a competitive job market.

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