Jon Christianson, Ph.D.

January 23, 2006

Jon Christianson, Ph.D., is the James A. Hamilton Chair in Health Management in the Division of Health Services Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. He currently serves as a member of the Research Advisory Board at the Center for Studying Health Systems Change and the Synthesis Project Advisory Group for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

His research specialties include evaluation of treatment processes, competition and competitive healthcare markets, health insurance, and financial incentives in healthcare. His current research interests include the development of new consumer-directed health plans, employer strategies for purchasing healthcare, implementation of evidence-based treatment processes in healthcare organizations, and tracking change in healthcare markets.

Christianson received his B.A. in mathematics and economics at St. Olaf College and his M.S. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Christianson has worked on a variety of projects under the HCFO initiative. Most recently, Christianson explored the impact of internet direct contracting (IDC) systems directed at the employer/employee health insurance market. IDCs contract between employers and providers to provide health insurance to employees and often take over the administrative and marketing tasks historically completed by health insurers. The study found that, where offered by firms, direct contribution plans attract a sizable portion of employees. However, long-term stability relies on rapid diffusion to other markets, an ability to restructure management according to growth, and an ability to engage consumers in containing health care costs.

Two other HCFO funded projects exploring new models of employer-based health insurance examined an employer coalition in Minnesota that contracts directly with hospital and physician groups instead of health plans. The studies found that successful care system models retain relationships with care systems and actively involve large employers from the coalition.

Christianson also investigated how managed care organizations (MCO) utilize information technology. Specifically, the study examined the role of information technology (IT) in MCO development and organization of work, and factors influencing HMOs' IT use. Data analysis found that HMOs-especially smaller firms-most frequently use IT in outsourcing pharmacy claims, though some firms also use IT to outsource transaction processing.

For more information on Jon Christianson, Ph.D., and a list of selected publications, see the Division of Health Services Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.