• Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Stecher received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California - Los Angeles in June 2017, and joined the Department of Economics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Fall. He is also a member of the Institute for Health Care Delivery Science in the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His research broadly focuses on topics in domestic and development health economics. To date, he has employed methods from social network analysis and behavioral economics to study both physicians’ and patients’ adherence to treatment guidelines.
Domestically, this research employs large administrative health datasets to estimate physicians’ professional networks. “Network estimates are derived from observed patterns in patient sharing, and allow me to identify how network position and composition influences an individual physician’s treatment practices.” Stecher explains. “Specifically, my existing research has identified and quantified the significant increase in generalist physicians’ quality of HIV care experienced from greater professional ties to HIV specialists. These estimates also help to quantify the potential improvements in patient outcomes from healthcare policy that optimizes physician networks.”
In the development context, Dr. Stecher’s research investigates patients’ medication adherence behavior. Specifically, he uses behavioral economic theory to inform health interventions designed to promote greater antiretroviral medication adherence among HIV-positive patients in Kampala, Uganda. This research is conducted in partnership with Dr. Sebastian Linnemayr; together they have published the successful early results from an intervention that uses a variable rewards mechanism to incentivize proper medication adherence. In an upcoming, larger randomized controlled trial, they plan to further test the effectiveness of this mechanism with a particular focus on identifying heterogeneous treatment effects across demographic groups and participants’ behavioral biases. This planned research will also integrate new theory regarding the psychology of habit formation, and the role of contextual cues and early incentives on the persistence of repeated behaviors.
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