The Lewin Group, a health-care research consultancy based in Fairfax County, is looking for a managing consultant and health economist to help the federal government prepare for the next crisis.
As a lead researcher with the firm’s national security and emergency preparedness practice, the new hire is to delve into insurance-claims data to help federal agencies learn more about the nation’s health-care system. Because Lewin is owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, the health economist will have access to troves of claims data not available to the public.
The Post spoke to Paul Hogan, senior vice president and practice director for federal national security and emergency preparedness. The interview has been edited for brevity.
What sort of research will this person work on?
One type of analysis is to look at investments in preparedness that have been made by the states and feds, and see whether these investments, holding other things constant, have made an impact on the outcome of emergencies.
For other projects we’ve developed models to test whether the scope of practice laws, laws that say what various practitioners are allowed to do, have an effect on health outcomes. We’ve taken an economic approach to that. These laws vary by state: For example, in some states nurse practitioners can prescribe medicine and in others they can’t.
Another project is thinking about how the future the demographics of the U.S. are going to change, and how that’s going to affect how much health care we need.
Lewin is owned by an insurance company. How will that affect the health economist’s independence as a researcher?
We have to be careful that we’re not doing research that would preclude other parts of the company from pursuing opportunities.
For example, we couldn’t help with source selection for a contract that UnitedHealth is applying for. But there is nothing that would skew this researcher away from conducting independent research.
Is this a solo job? Or will this person work as part of a team?
They’ll be managing projects of all sizes. The ancient classical model is a senior researcher working with a junior data analyst.
But in addition we have projects that have multiple people working on them, conducting multiple tasks. We would expect their management skills to evolve over time. For our company, eight or 12 people on a single project is pretty common.
What is the workplace culture like at Lewin? Does it feel more like a small consultancy or the research wing of a large corporation?
One benefit of having a larger corporation above us is we get to work with data and tools that we otherwise might not have. But at the same time, being a smaller consultancy gives us freedom within our client relationships to be objective.
Is this a unique position at the company?
I wouldn’t call it unique. This person will join other colleagues who are economists, as well as colleagues who are doing similar research that are not economists.
We’re not looking for a southpaw or some idiosyncratic skill.
We just need solid [quantitative analytical] skills and experience working with data on medical claims.