Beth McGinty – Expert Insight

Beth McGinty, PhD, MS
Professor, Health Policy and Management
Co-Director, Center for Mental Health and Addiction Research
Co-Director, ALACRITY Center for Health and Longevity in Mental Illness
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Tell us a little bit about your research. How does it contribute to the overall goal of HBHI? 

My research is focused on advancing knowledge to facilitate effective health policy implementation. To achieve this goal, I conduct research characterized by the integration of approaches from the fields of public policy, implementation science, and complexity science. Key areas of interest include policy implementation research studying the system, organization, provider, and patient-level implementation strategies that need to accompany health policies for policy goals to be achieved; study of the role of policy in the scale-up of complex interventions; and policy communication research examining how to persuade decision-makers and implementers of the importance of adopting and implementing evidence-based health policies. Much of my research is focused on these issues in the context of health policies affecting people with mental illness and/or substance use disorder. My work is well-aligned with HBHI's focus on developing pathways to scale innovations in the health system.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work? 

My work is motivated by two interrelated problems: (1) many evidence-based health policies do not achieve their population health goals due to implementation failures and (2) many evidence-based health interventions are never widely scaled due to policy barriers. My overarching goal is to build actionable knowledge on how to address these issues through designing policy with implementation in mind, coupling health policies with other implementation strategies, and effectively communicating the value of health policies.

Tell us about a current project you are working on and what potential impacts do the findings have? What makes you excited about it? 

Through the ALACRITY Center for Health and Longevity in Mental Illness, I am working on a series of projects focused on scaling up complex interventions shown in clinical trials to reduce cardiovascular risk in people with serious mental illness. People with serious mental illness have 10-20 years excess mortality due to high rates of poorly controlled cardiovascular disease, so scaling up effective interventions has the potential for significant public health impact. I am also excited about this project as a laboratory for building knowledge on strategies for broad health system scale-up of complex, multi-component interventions for high-cost, high-need groups. This work has already led to publication of a framework for scale-up of complex interventions in vulnerable populations.

Tell us about a project you are working on with other HBHI colleagues. 

I am collaborating with Matt Eisenberg and Luis Quintero on a NIDA-funded study examining how state health policy changes made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., state telehealth policies, state policies governing opioid treatment programs) have influenced the pandemic's effects on substance use disorder treatment and overdose. States are considering making many of these policy changes permanent, and our study's results have the potential to inform these policy decisions.

What have you learned so far from being a part of HBHI? 

I've learned about several areas of management and organization research that are highly relevant to health policy implementation, for example research on how care team composition influences quality of care. I've also learned about some business of health-related topics I had never thought about before, like healthcare supply chains!

In your opinion, where are the greatest opportunities to improving the American health care system? How can HBHI contribute?

High-cost, high-need populations, for example people with serious mental illness, individuals with substance use disorders, and older adults with multiple chronic conditions, are major drivers of healthcare spending. Despite the significant resources spent on care for these groups, quality of care and health outcomes are poor. HBHI can contribute by producing knowledge on scalable models that improve care and control costs for these populations.

For fun: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Anywhere with big mountains to climb!