People

Marcia Ward, PhD

Marcia M. Ward, PhD

RTRC Director

Dr. Ward is a Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy and Director of the Center for Health Policy and Research in the Department of Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health, University of Iowa. Her 35 years of research experience focus on health services research, rural healthcare delivery, and health outcomes. Dr. Ward has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, many of which are highly cited. She has been funded on more than 70 grants and contracts during her research career and has extensive experience directing research teams and conducting evaluations of healthcare implementation and quality improvement projects. She has been involved in telehealth research for nine years. Dr. Ward has five policy briefs and 26 peer-reviewed publications specifically related to telehealth. In December 2020, Dr. Ward was selected as a member and co-chair of National Quality Forum’s (NQF’s) Rural Telehealth and Healthcare System Readiness Committee. This 25-member committee will meet five times over 10 months starting in January 2021. She previously served as member and co-chair of NQF’s Telehealth Multistakeholder Committee for the Telehealth Framework to Support Measure Development, a one-year project that started in 2016.

Nicholas Mohr, MD, MS

Nicholas Mohr, MD, MS

RTRC Deputy Director

Dr. Mohr is a Professor of Emergency Medicine, Anesthesia Critical Care, and Epidemiology, Vice Chair of Research, and Program Director in Emergency Medicine Critical Care at the University of Iowa. He is interested in regionalization of rural emergency medicine and critical care services. He has been funded previously by the Emergency Medicine Foundation, the Children's Miracle Network, and the Injury Prevention Research Center. Much of Dr. Mohr's prior work has focused on sepsis, acute respiratory failure, and early trauma care. He has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications focused on the intersection between emergency medicine and critical care. He recently concluded a clinical trial testing the use of telemedicine to enroll participants in research studies, and he is currently collaborating on studies testing the quality of telemedicine-enabled physical examinations and utility of telehealth in supporting airway management.

Knute Carter

Knute Carter, PhD

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Carter is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Deputy Director of the Center for Public Health Statistics (CPHS) in the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa. Dr. Carter has over 25 years of experience in health services research. Before moving to the United States, he conducted research at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Dental Statistics and Research Unit where he was involved in the design, implementation, and analysis of large scale national dental public health surveys, and longitudinal studies of the oral health of older adults with dementia and in nursing homes. He has a wealth of experience with the use of large medical claims databases for research, including Iowa Medicaid claims, and private commercial insurance claims. Dr. Carter provides statistical expertise to researchers across campus and has been conducting research with the RTRC since 2015.

Andrew F. Coburn, PhD

Andrew F. Coburn, PhD

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Coburn is Research Professor Emeritus, and Senior Fellow in the Maine Rural Health Research Center (MRHRC) in the Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine. Dr. Coburn's research has focused principally on health care delivery and financing, especially in the rural health context. With funding from HRSA, AHRQ, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, among other sources, he and colleagues have studied issues related to patterns of health insurance coverage for rural populations, Critical Access Hospitals and the Rural Hospital Flexibility Program, rural hospital patient safety, rural long term care, and the impact of public and private health reform on rural health systems. He has published widely and was a member of the IOM's Committee on the Future of Rural Health that published Quality Through Collaboration: The Future of Rural Health. Since 1993, he has served on the Rural Policy Research Institute's (RUPRI) Expert Panel on Rural Health.

Kimberley Fox

Kimberley S. Fox, MPA

RTRC Co-investigator

Ms. Fox is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service. Her research and policy interests are in the areas of child health, Medicaid/CHIP, quality measurement and public reporting, patient experience of care and expanding and improving healthcare access and quality for poor and underserved populations. She previously has led evaluations funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services of innovative Medicaid value-based purchasing strategies including Maine’s CHIPRA quality demonstration grant to improve health outcomes for children on Medicaid/CHIP and children in foster care with special needs and MaineCare’s Health Homes initiative to assess how practice transformation and payment changes help improve the quality and cost of care for adults and children. She has also conducted policy analyses of strategies to improve access to care including expansion of premium assistance programs, pay for performance programs, state health reform including individual and small group market reforms, as well as state pharmacy assistance programs and maximizing enrollment in Medicare Savings Programs for low-income elderly funded by the Commonwealth Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson. She currently is evaluating use of telehealth in school-based settings, and methods for increasing transparency of price and quality information and consumer engagement in health care decisions. Prior to moving to Maine, she worked at the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, Baruch College’s School of Public Policy, the Medical and Health Research Association, the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, and the United Hospital Fund of NYC.

Kari Harland

Kari K. Harland, MPH, PhD

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Harland is an Adjunct Assistant Professor and the Director of Research Operations in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Iowa. She is an epidemiologist with over 15 years of experience conducting injury and violence research with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Harland has extensive experience in complex study design and analysis of secondary data sources.

Yvonne Jonk

Yvonne Jonk, PhD

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Jonk is Deputy Director of the Maine Rural Health Research Center (MRHRC) with expertise in health economics. She is also Associate Research Professor in the graduate program in public health at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service. She was previously the Associate Director of the Center for Comparative Effectiveness Analytics at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences and held a faculty appointment there. Dr. Jonk’s areas of specialization include rural health, access to care, health insurance coverage, program evaluation, and cost and cost effectiveness analyses.  Her current portfolio of work with the MRHRC includes research on acuity differences in newly admitted rural and urban nursing home residents and the use and cost of health services by the elderly (65+) and the oldest old (age 85+). Dr. Jonk received her PhD in Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota, where she conducted research with the Minneapolis VA Medical Center and the Minnesota Rural Health Research Center and taught in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota.

Saif Khairat, PhD

Saif Khairat, PhD, MPH

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Khairat is an assistant professor of Health Informatics at the School of Nursing and the Carolina Health Informatics Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Khairat has a decade’s worth of Health IT experience. His work focuses on the use of telemedicine to improve health access, disparities, and outcomes using mixed-methods and geospatial analysis. Dr. Khairat led a $1 million federally funded telehealth center with a catchment area of 18 million people in the Great Plains region. He also investigates the role of electronic health records use in provider burnout and patient safety. Dr. Khairat authored more than 50 scientific articles in 30 different, peer-reviewed journals and conferences, and has served as an investigator for more than $6.5 million in research grants. Dr. Khairat has a doctorate degree in health informatics from the University of Missouri and Master’s in Health Policy and Management from the Gilling’s School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kimberly A. S. Merchant, MA

Kimberly A. S. Merchant, MA

RTRC Project Manager

Ms. Merchant is Project Manager of RTRC. She brings a background of organizational management, communication, program development, and nine years of research project management to RTRC. Over the course of a 40-year career, she has worked for Fortune 500 companies, been president of a Chamber of Commerce, published a sports and fitness magazine, and been an active civic volunteer. Since coming to the University of Iowa College of Public Health in 2008, she has facilitated worksite wellness group sessions, conducted certified cognitive functioning tests, written and designed newsletters and other publications, conducted a statewide eating disorders needs assessment, been project coordinator for the RUPRI Center's Mission: Lifeline program evaluations in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Minnesota, and conducted qualitative research.

Keith Mueller, PhD

Keith Mueller, PhD

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Mueller is Gerhard Hartman Professor and Head, Department of Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health, University of Iowa. He is also the Director of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis. He has served as President of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and as a member of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services. He also served on the Advisory Panel on Medicare Education for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Advisory Committee to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research. He has published more than 200 publications in health services research and policy and received awards recognizing his research contributions from NRHA, RUPRI, and the University of Nebraska. Dr. Mueller has directed major health services studies funded by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He has testified on numerous occasions before committees of Congress and in other forums, including the Institute of Medicine and the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Steve North, MD, MPH

Steve North, MD, MPH

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. North is founder and medical director of the Center for Rural Health Innovation (CRHI) in Spruce Pine, NC, which operates the Health-e-Schools school-based telemedicine program that currently provides access to primary care, preventive cardiology and psychiatry to more than 12,000 students at 30 rural schools in the mountains of western North Carolina. Additionally, Dr. North practices family and adolescent medicine at a rural health clinic; serves as medical director for the Mission Center for Telehealth; and serves on the board of the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center and on the ATA Pediatric Guidelines Telemedicine Committee. In December 2020, Dr. North was selected as a member of National Quality Forum’s (NQF’s) Rural Telehealth and Healthcare System Readiness Committee. This 25-member committee will meet five times over 10 months starting in January 2021. He previously served as member of NQF’s Telehealth Multistakeholder Committee for the Telehealth Framework to Support Measure Development, a one-year project that started in 2016.

Christopher M. Shea, PhD

Christopher M. Shea, PhD

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Shea is Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management and Social Medicine in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and the School of Medicine, respectively; Research Fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research; and Co-Lead for implementation science in the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His research employs both quantitative and qualitative methods to study adoption and implementation of innovations to improve quality of care. His prior studies have focused on innovations involving electronic health records, telestroke services, and virtual learning communities, among others. He also has experience developing survey measures for clinicians, including one for “organizational readiness for change,” which has been widely used both domestically and internationally.

Jean Talbot, PhD, MPH

Jean Talbot, PhD, MPH

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Talbot is a core member of the Maine Rural Health Research Center (MRHRC) rural behavioral health research team in the Muskie School of Public Health, University of Southern Maine. A clinical psychologist by training, she focused more than 10 years of practice on providing behavioral health interventions in inpatient facilities, community mental health agencies, university medical centers, and primary care. Since joining the MRHRC, she has been the principal investigator or lead author on a range of projects that have contributed to insights into behavioral health needs, treatment access, infrastructure gaps, and capacity building in rural areas.

Fred Ullrich

Fred Ullrich, BA

RTRC Co-investigator

Mr. Ullrich is a Program Director in the Department of Health Management and Policy, College of Public Health, University of Iowa. He has served as a research analyst, research methodologist, and project manager on a very broad array of health policy and bio-medical research projects ranging from local and national survey projects, cancer and surgical clinical trials, and regional and international epidemiologic studies. His recent work has focused on state, regional, and national projects in health services research, policy analysis, and program and policy evaluation.

Erika Ziller, PhD, MS

Erika Ziller, PhD, MS

RTRC Co-investigator

Dr. Ziller is Senior Research Associate and Director of the Maine Rural Health Research Center (MRHRC) in the Muskie School of Public Service, University of Southern Maine. She is an accomplished rural health researcher and experienced methodologist with 15 years of experience working with complex surveys, claims, and other health data. She serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Rural Health, received the Louis Gorin award from the National Rural Health Association in 2012 and has published in Health Affairs, Journal of Rural Health, and other recognized journals.