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Samantha Smith, M.S.P.H.

Research Associate - AcademyHealth

Samantha Smith is a research associate at AcademyHealth, where she supports the work of the Translation and Dissemination Institute through her involvement with the Listening Project and other related activities.

Before joining as a staff member in June 2014, she was an intern with AcademyHealth during the summer of 2013. As an intern, she assisted with the Lessons Project by conducting qualitative research on best practices in translation and dissemination from fields outside of health care. Prior to AcademyHealth, Samantha served as a Teach For America corps member in Dallas, TX and also interned with NC Prevention Partners. She holds a Master of Science in Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Authored by Samantha Smith, M.S.P.H.


Four Elements that Influence Payment Reform for Population Health

AcademyHealth's Payment Reform for Population Health team identified four major element domains that influence the conditions and collaborations associated with how health care purchasers, plans, and providers might support strategies for sustainable funding and financing activities and infrastructure that can bolster non-clinical community-wide population health.

Medicaid Medical Directors Network (MMDN)

AcademyHealth manages this vibrant learning community and facilitates peer-to-peer learning and dialogue among senior clinical leaders of state Medicaid programs.

The Medicaid Medical Directors Network (MMDN) seeks to advance the health of Medicaid beneficiaries by providing a forum for senior clinical leaders to discuss their most pressing needs and share best practices. Facilitated by AcademyHealth, the MMDN conducts multistate projects on pressing topics, hosts yearly convenings, and leverages collective experience to support and advance both state and national work. Research and quality improvement projects span a range of topics relevant to improving care for Medicaid beneficiaries including studies on antipsychotic medication use in children and adolescents, hospital readmissions, and perinatal care. The MMDN focuses on the development and use of evidence-based medicine, measurement and improvement of health care quality, and the redesign of health care delivery systems. AcademyHealth assists in this by:

  • Creating and sustaining a vibrant learning community for State Medicaid Medical Directors and other senior clinical leaders to promote and share best practices for the medical direction of State Medicaid programs;
  • Facilitating the exchange of the network’s expertise and experience to Federal agencies and national organizations involved in creating policy or implementing programs; and
  • Assisting in the implementation of nationally significant multistate measurement and quality improvement projects.

As the professional home of the MMDN, AcademyHealth has maintained a strategic partnership with state Medicaid Medical Directors spanning more than a decade with support from various funders and partners including the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Network (PCORI), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 Current Projects

  • Immunization Barriers in the United States: Targeting Medicaid Partnerships. This project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seeks to understand and address barriers to improving immunization rates for children and pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid. AcademyHealth, in collaboration with the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition, will work with a subset of MMDN states to identify and address barriers through the following activities:
    • Engaging with and facilitating collaboration among various pertinent state agencies;
    • Expanding state knowledge and understanding of challenges to increasing immunization efforts for children and pregnant women with Medicaid coverage;
    • Identifying and sharing best practices related to increasing immunizations and Immunization Information System s sustainability; and
    • Providing state support in developing and implementing applicable best practice strategies.

Payment Reform for Population Health

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, AcademyHealth is leading the Payment Reform for Population Health initiative to examine the opportunities through which the payment system can support population health.

Through commissioned research, Guiding Committee insights, stakeholder interviews, literature reviews, and subcontracted collaborative activities, AcademyHealth identified many challenges and barriers to linking the health care payment system to community-wide population health. Specifically, AcademyHealth supported activities to overcome barriers and identify the facilitators that enable community health-focused payment models to thrive.

Project Learnings

The project team identified four major foundational elements that influence how health care purchasers, plans, and providers consider supporting sustainable funding and financing activities and infrastructure that can bolster community-wide population health. These findings are illustrated in this infographic and supported by the collaborative research projects and related reports listed below.

P4PH Infographic Snapshot

Community Case Studies
Dr. Jean McGuire and colleagues at Northeastern University conducted four case studies of cross-sector community-level population health improvement efforts focused on addressing social determinants of health.

Workshop on Multi-Sector Collaboration to Improve Population Health
AcademyHealth and the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI) hosted a two-day workshop that convened five multi-sector teams led by regional health improvement collaboratives (RHICs) along with content experts to discuss how innovative payment and financing models could incentivize both health care sector and their non-health care sector partners —e.g., transportation, housing, education - to improve community-wide population health. 

Medicaid Roadmap for Testing Upstream Investments
AcademyHealth is collaborating with Nemours Children’s Health System to provide technical support to three state Medicaid programs to identify and test approaches to financing upstream prevention and addressing social determinants of health.

Building Payment Models and Contracting Structures to Support Social Determinants of Health
AcademyHealth is supporting the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative to examine the use of innovative payment models and contracting arrangements to support non-clinical services that address social determinants of health.