National Academy of Medicine Inducts Dartmouth Economist

Douglas Staiger, the John French Professor in Economics at Dartmouth, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), in the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He is one of 70 regular members and 10 international members elected to the Academy during its annual meeting earlier this month.

Professor Douglas Staiger
Douglas Staiger is the John French Professor in Economics. (Eli Burakian ’00)

Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. “Our newly elected members represent the brightest, most influential, and passionate people in health, science, and medicine in our nation and internationally,” says NAM President Victor J. Dzau. 

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The National Academy of Medicine recently changed its name from the Institute of Medicine. There are 10 other Dartmouth NAM members, distributed among the College, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and the Geisel School of Medicine.

Staiger, who joined the Department of Economics in 1998, says his election came as a surprise. “It’s a nice recognition of the work that I have been doing with colleagues at Dartmouth and elsewhere over the last 25 years.”

Staiger is known for his studies of performance, both measuring and trying to understand why there are productivity differences among physicians, hospitals, and regions. Staiger tracks patient outcomes—following all patients who have come in for a particular type of surgery or condition—to observe their mortality rate, serious complication rate, and cost of care.

“My work is focused on patient outcomes, mortality in particular; trying to understand why it varies across providers or regions, what we can learn from that, and how we might try to improve productivity in health care,” he says. Staiger’s other focus has been on health care labor markets, including high-impact studies on the shortage of nurses.

Staiger is affiliated with The Dartmouth Institute for Health Care Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI), as are many of his collaborators. He has also worked with colleagues beyond the precincts of Dartmouth, including colleagues at Harvard, University of Michigan, Montana State University, and Vanderbilt.

Staiger is a co-founder of ArborMetrix, a 45-employee company that provides performance measurement for surgeons, hospitals, and health plans. “Measuring performance is critical to health care organizations trying to improve patient outcomes, and our work has naturally turned into a business—a practical side to our academic research,” he says.