Pay-for-success: Paula Lantz on an innovative model for population health

November 11, 2016

A new study led by Paula Lantz is mentioned in Elizabeth Whitman’s Novemer 9 article for Modern Healthcare: “Initiatives to improve population health are disparate and face numerous hurdles.”

Lantz’s study examines a new public-private funding model called “pay-for-success,” which helps governments address population health problems through private investment. The strategy is so new that Lantz’s study examines the first eleven programs to be implemented in the United States. At this point, Lantz says, “People are just trying to figure out, What’s going to work here?”

The pay-for-success model connects a private-sector investor, such as a foundation or corporation, to fund a public program. A third party then analyzes the outcome to determine whether the initiative has saved the government money. Investors only receive returns if the program is deemed successful. Because the model places risk on private investors, it frees governments from short-term constraints like the budget and allows them to focus on the long term impact, instead. Lantz hopes this model will offer “more creative financing opportunities to focus on the social determinants of health."

Lantz is the principal investigator of U-M’s new Policies for Action Research Hub, established in 2016 with a $1.2 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The hub analyzes emerging policy innovations like pay-for-success to inform best practices for future policy directions.

Access the journal article: “Pay for success and population health: Early results from eleven projects reveal challenges and promise” by Paula Lantz, Sara Rosenbaum, Leighton Ku, and Samantha Iovan.

Paula Lantz is associate dean for research and policy engagement and a professor of public policy at the Ford School.  Dr. Lantz, a social demographer, studies the role of public health in health care reform and social inequalities in health.