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New Director for Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research

Matthew McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, FAAN, the Independence Chair for Nursing Education and Professor of Nursing, has been appointed the Director for the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research (CHOPR). The appointment was effective as of January 1, 2021. CHOPR was established in 1989 by Dr. Linda Aiken as one of the first centers to scale up rigorous research on the impact of nursing on patient outcomes. It uses evidence to inform policy and produces the next generation of nurse scientists.

“Dr. McHugh’s body of work has advanced the field of nursing outcomes and policy research by showing the value of investing in nursing to achieve a higher functioning health care system. I know that Matt will bring a focused energy to this new role and will continue to advance research and training that will inform health care policies and practices now, and in the years, to come,” said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel. “We are grateful to Dr. Aiken, Founding Director of CHOPR, who has built a solid foundation in health outcomes research, locally and globally. I am confident that the impact of CHOPR and Penn Nursing faculty and students, under Matt’s leadership, will continue to thrive.”

“I am delighted that Dr. McHugh is assuming the leadership of CHOPR. He is a rigorous researcher and a thoughtful scholar,” said Therese Richmond, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Dean for Research and Innovation. “I know that Dr. McHugh will be an effective leader who will build on the strong foundation of the work of CHOPR while growing this center in new and important directions.”

“I am honored to build on the tremendous impact that CHOPR has had under the direction of Dr. Linda Aiken over the past three decades,” said McHugh. “Our work is devoted to documenting the essential contributions of nurses to high quality healthcare and ensuring that policies and practices that affect how nurses deliver care are based on rigorous evidence. I am committed to working with our faculty, staff, fellows, students, colleagues, and the more than 70 nurse researchers around the world who trained at CHOPR to use state-of-the-art empirical approaches to answer how best to leverage nurses as a solution to our most pressing healthcare concerns.”

About Dr. McHugh

As principal investigator on multiple large-scale studies funded by NIH, AHRQ, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, McHugh’s work has advanced the field of nursing outcomes and policy research by showing the value of investing in nursing to achieve a higher functioning health care system. McHugh has also carried out a number of studies evaluating the impact of nurse practitioner scope-of-practice restrictions and Medicaid reimbursement rates on access to care.

In addition to findings from direct evaluations of nurse staffing ratio laws, McHugh has been instrumental in Penn’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Graduate Nurse Education (GNE) Demonstration Project— a $200 million Demonstration project under the Affordable Care Act, which provides reimbursement through the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (one of only five hospitals nationally) for the cost of clinical training for advanced practice registered nursing students. McHugh also has a record of continuous service on advisory panels and councils that inform quality measurement and evaluation for policy purposes.

McHugh has also conducted a series of studies evaluating how nursing affects policy initiatives and outcomes central to health reform. For example, McHugh and colleagues have focused on an area that had been largely ignored in efforts to lower readmissions: the variation in nursing resources and work environments across hospitals. His work has shown that hospitals with better levels of nurse staffing are much less likely to be penalized under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. His research has influenced policy and practice nationally and internationally, particularly around nurse staffing legislation, Magnet hospital credentialing, and hospital performance monitoring.

McHugh is a Member of the National Academy of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Senior Fellow of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, a Co-director of the T32 program on Advanced Training in Nursing Outcomes Research funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research, Faculty Director of the Nursing and Healthcare management dual degree program at Penn Nursing/Wharton, a Fulbright Scholar, and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar. In addition to serving on a number of advisory and expert workgroups, he also serves on the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) and is Vice Chair of the PHC4 Data Systems Committee.