• Phone: 617-353-9222
  • E-Mail:  abcohen@bu.edu
  • Office: 53 Bay State Road
  • Office Hours: By Appointment
  • Address: 53 Bay State Rd
    Boston, MA 02215

Profile Summary

Alan B. Cohen, Sc.D. is Professor of Health Policy and Management in the School of Management, and national program director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program. At BU since 1994, he directed the School of Management’s Health Care MBA Program for nine years (1994-2003), and the Boston University Health Policy Institute for ten years (2003-2013). His current research interests include: evaluation of quality improvement initiatives; comparative health care systems, and evaluation of healthcare informatics tools and information systems. Earlier in his career, Dr. Cohen held faculty positions at Johns Hopkins University and Brandeis University, and spent eight years at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, serving as Vice President for Research and Evaluation for five years. He is principal author of Technology in American Health Care: Policy Directions for Effective Evaluation and Management (2004). Dr. Cohen is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and an editorial board member of Inquiry. He currently serves as a member of the Advisory Panel on Improving Healthcare Systems for the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). He received his B.A. in psychology from the University of Rochester, and his M.S. and Sc.D. in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health.

  • Education Open or Close

    ScD, Harvard University, Health Services Administration, 1983.

    MS, Harvard University, Health Policy and Management, 1975.

    BA, University of Rochester, Psychology, 1973.

  • Current CoursesOpen or Close

    GSM HM703 M1 Health Sector Issues and Opportunities

    SMG PL430 A1 The U.S. Healthcare System in Transition

  • PublicationsOpen or Close

    Journal Articles:

      Horny, M., Burgess, J., Horwitt, J., Cohen, A., (2014). Advanced Diagnostic Imaging in Privately Insured Patients: Recent Trends in Utilization and Payments. Journal of the American College of Radiology, 11(3), .

      Baurer, D., Yonek, J., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., Hasnain-Wynia, R., (2012). System-level Factors Affecting Clinicians' Perceptions and Use of Interpreter Services in California Public Hospitals. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health,

      Restuccia, J., Cohen, A., Horwitt, J., Shwartz, M., (2012). Hospital Implementation of Health Information Technology and Quality of Care: Are They Related?. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 12(1), 109-116.

      McHugh, M., Kang, R., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., Hasnain-Wynia, R., (2012). Reporting Information on Emergency Department Crowding to the Hospital Board and Delivery of Time-Sensitive Care. Joint Commission Journal On Quality and Patient Safety, 38(5), 229-234.

      Gauld, R., Blank, R., Burgers, J., Cohen, A., Dobrow, M., Ikegami, N., Kwan, S., Luxford, K., Millett, C., Wendt, C., (2012). The World Health Report 2008 - Primary Health Care: How Wide Is the Gap Between Its Agenda and Implementation in 12 High-Income Health Systems. Healthcare Policy, 7(3), 38-58.

      Gauld, R., Burgers, J., Dobrow, M., Luxford, K., Minhas, R., Wendt, C., Cohen, A., (2012). Quality Improvement, Information Technology and Primary Care Can Improve Healthcare System Performance. But Are Policymakers Promoting Them?. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 66(9), 827-833.

      Griffiths, F., Cave, J., Boardman, F., Ren, Z., Pawlikowska, T., Ball, R., Clarke, A., Cohen, A. B., (2012). Social Networks - the Future for Health Care Delivery.. Social Science & Medicine, 75(12), 2233-2241. Elsevier..


      Cohen, A., (2012). The Debate Over Health Care Rationing: Deja Vu All Over Again?. Inquiry, 49(2), 90-100.

      Gauld, R., Horwitt, J., Williams, S., Cohen, A., (2011). What Strategies Do U.S. Hospitals Employ to Reduce Unwarranted Clinical Practice Variations?. American Journal of Medical Quality, 26(2), 120-126.

      Shwartz, M., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., Ren, Z., Labonte, A., Theokary, C., Kang, R., Horwitt, J., (2011). How Well Can We Identify the High-Performing Hospital?. Medical Care Research and Review , 68(3), 290-310. Sage.


      Shwartz, M., Cramer, I., Holmes, S., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., Lukas, C. V., Sullivan, J., Charns, M. P., (2010). Survey-Assessed Quality and Organizational Factors Related to Quality in Pursuing Perfection Hospitals. Quality Management in Health Care, 19(4), 349-363.

      Clarke, A., Cohen, A., (2010). Bringing It All Back Home: Can Europeans Learn from Recent Moves Toward the Medical Home in US Primary Health Care Reform?. European Journal of Public Health, 20(6), 613-615.

      Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., Shwartz, M., Drake, J., Kang, R., Kralovec, P., Holmes, S., Margolin, F., Bohr, D., (2008). A Survey of Hospital Quality Improvement Activities. Medical Care Research and Review, 65(5), 571-595.

      Shwartz, M., Ren, Z., Pekoz, E., Wang, X., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., (2008). Estimating A Composite Measure of Hospital Quality From the Hospital Compare Database: Differences When Using a Bayesian Hierarchical Latent Variable Model Versus Denominator-Based Weights. Medical Care, 46(8), 778-785.

      Lukas, C., Holmes, S., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., Cramer, I., Shwartz, M., Charns, M., (2007). Transformational Change in Health Care Systems: An Organizational Model. Health Care Management Review, 32(4), 309-320.

      Gauld, R., Burgers, J., Dobrow, M., Luxford, K., Minhas, R., Wendt, C., Cohen, A., (Accepted). Healthcare System Performance Improvement: A Comparison of Key Policies in Seven High-Income Countries. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 28(1), .

    Other Publications:

      Mohr, D., Cohen, A., Chan, J., Marsella, S., Charns, M., (2012). Evaluation of the HSR&D Evidence-Based Synthesis Program.: VA Boston Healthcare System.


      Cohen, A., (2012). Sunday Dialogue: Equitable Health Care.: The New York Times.


      Cohen, A., (2012). Invitation to a Dialogue: Health Care Rationing.: The New York Times.


      Cohen, A., (2012). Book Review of "Remedy and Reaction" by Paul Starr. (2, 49, 176-177).: Inquiry.


      Cohen, A., (2011). Social Security Has Protected Us for Decades.: The Boston Globe.


      Cohen, A., (2011). The Government and Electronic Health Data.: The New York Times.


      Hasnain-Wynia, R., Yonek, J., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., (2009). Improving Care for Individuals with Limited English Proficiency: Facilitators and Barriers to Providing Language Services in California Public Hospitals.: The California Endowment.


      Margolin, F., Bohr, D., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., (2009). Hospital Quality Improvement Activities: Issues in Staffing and Training.: Health Research and Educational Trust.


      Margolin, F., Bohr, D., Kang, R., Cohen, A., Restuccia, J., (2008). Hospital Quality Improvement Activity: A Snapshot of the State of the Art.: Health Research and Educational Trust.


  • Contracts, Grants and Sponsored ResearchOpen or Close

    RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program and RWJF Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (September 1, 2013 - August 31, 2014).

    RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program and RWJF Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (September 1, 2012 - August 31, 2013).

    Evaluation of Boston Medical Center’s Performance Dashboard, Boston Medical Center. (2010 - December 2012).

    RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (September 2011 - August 2012).

    Complexity Science and Health Care, BU-Warwick Strategic Funding Initiative. (2010 - 2012).

    RWJF Scholars in Health Policy Research Program, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2010 - 2011).

    Examining the Quality and Efficiency of Care in U.S. Safety Net Hospitals, Commonwealth Fund. (2009 - 2010).

    Examining Quality, Efficiency and Patient Experience in U.S. Hospitals, Phase 2, Commonwealth Fund. (2007 - 2009).

    Health Information Technology and Quality of Care, Commonwealth Fund. (2007 - 2007).

    Survey to Assess the Current State and Impact of Quality Improvement Activities in U.S. Hospitals, Commonwealth Fund. (2005 - 2007).

    Evaluation of the RWJF Pursuing Perfection Program, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (2002 - 2006).

  • Research PresentationsOpen or Close

    Invited Lectures:

      Cohen, A., (Presenter & Author), Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program Seminar, U.S. Health Care Reform: An Ongoing Struggle, Boston University, Boston, MA. (November 6, 2013).

      Cohen, A., (Author Only), 40 Years of Research & Evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Evaluation of Human Capital Programs, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ. (September 19, 2012).

      Shwartz, M., (Author Only), Pekoz, E., (Author Only), Cohen, A., (Author Only), Health Sciences Division Seminar, Developing Composite Measures for Health Care Provider Organizations, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK. (June 21, 2012).

      Cohen, A., (Presenter & Author), MBA Program Seminar, Quality Improvement Efforts in U.S. Hospitals – Opportunities, Challenges and Lessons Learned, Executive Programmes, University of Otago School of Business, Dunedin, New Zealand. (September 22, 2010).

      Cohen, A., (Presenter & Author), Society, Health and Public Policy (PUBH 702), Reforming the U.S. Health System, Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago School of Medicine, Dunedin, New Zealand. (September 21, 2010).

      Cohen, A., (Presenter & Author), Department of Preventive and Social Medicine Seminar, Quality Improvement Efforts in U.S. Hospitals – Opportunities, Challenges and Lessons Learned, University of Otago School of Medicine, Dunedin, New Zealand. (September 16, 2010).

    Accepted Lectures:

      Cohen, A., (Presenter & Author), Restuccia, J., (Author Only), Kang, R., (Author Only), Horwitt, J., (Author Only), McHugh, M., (Author Only), Hasnain-Wynia, R., (Author Only), 2010 AcademyHealth Annual Meeting, Comparison of Quality Improvement Activities in Safety Net and Non-Safety Net Hospitals, AcademyHealth, Boston, MA. (June 28, 2010).

  • General ServiceOpen or Close

    Service to the School:

      Boston University, Other SMG Service Area, Committee Member, Provost's Office. (January 1, 2010 - June 30, 2013).
      Attend Steering Committee meetings; advise VP for Research of the University


      Local, Boston University, Member, CRC Advisory Committee on Investigators' Conflicts of Interest. (January 2011 - Present).

    Service to the Profession:

      National, Professional, Member, Membership Committee, National Academy of Social Insurance. (July 1, 2013 - Present).
      Screen nominees for election to National Academy and make recommendations to the Board of Directors


  • ConsultingOpen or Close

    Academic, VA Center for Organization, Leadership & Management Research, Boston, MA. (May 1, 2006 - October 31, 2013).

    Work with the Center for Organization, Leadership & Management Research of the VA Boston Healthcare System


    Academic, University of Warwick Medical School, Coventry, United Kingdom. (May 1, 2013 - May 31, 2013).
    Assisted in the review of two candidates for professorial rank position in economics within the medical school.


  • Editorial And Review ActivitiesOpen or Close

    Cohen, A., Journal of Health Politics Policy and Law, Invited Manuscript Reviewer, International, Academic. (January 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013).

    Cohen, A., Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Invited Manuscript Reviewer, International, Academic. (January 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013).

    Cohen, A., Medical Care, Invited Manuscript Reviewer, International, Academic. (January 1, 2013 - December 31, 2013).

    Cohen, A., Journal of Health Organization and Management, Editorial Board Member, International, Appointed, Academic. (January 1, 2012 - Present).

    Review manuscripts; advise editor


    Cohen, A., Inquiry, Editorial Board Member, National, Appointed, Academic. (January 1, 1986 - Present).
    Review manuscripts; advise editor


  • Academic, Military and Professional PositionsOpen or Close

    Member, International Scientific Advisory Group, Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (for West Midlands Region, United Kingdom). (December 1, 2013 - Present).

    Member, Advisory Panel on Improving Healthcare Systems, Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute. (April 13, 2013 - Present).

    National Program Director, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program. (2013 - Present).

    Direct national program office that awards research grants to health policy researchers


    Professor of Health Policy and Management, Boston University School of Management. (1994 - Present).
    Have taught courses on the American healthcare system, technology management in health care, and cross-national comparisons of healthcare systems. In 2014, will teach courses in health sector management and U.S. health care system reform. Also have served on the FPC (5 years) and SMG Management Committee. Member of Markets, Public Policy and Law Department.


    National Program Director, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research Program. (1992 - Present).
    Direct national program office for a postdoctoral program that trains economists, political scientists and sociologists in health policy research.


    Executive Director, Boston University Health Policy Institute. (2003 - June 30, 2013).
    Oversight of HPI activities and projects, including grant proposal writing and research.


    Director, Health Care Management Program, Boston University School of Management. (1994 - 2003).
    Responsibilities included: student recruitment, admissions, retention and advising; curriculum development; course instruction; program planning and management.


    Research Professor, The Heller Graduate School, Brandeis University. (1992 - 1994).
    Conducted research on the feasibility of setting national healthcare expenditure limits


    Vice President for Research, Evaluation & Statistics, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (1988 - 1992).
    Directed 15-member staff unit responsible for evaluating the Foundation's national programs and major research projects.


  • Awards and HonorsOpen or Close

    Luminary, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Service, Professional. (October 24, 2012).

    Named one of 40 Luminaries in the history of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


    William Evans Visiting Fellowship, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, Teaching. (September 2010).
    A three-week visiting fellowship to lecture to business and medical students, and to conduct research with Otago faculty


    Provost's Research Fellow, Office of the Provost, Boston University, Service, University. (2009).
    Organize and conduct cross-disciplinary faculty retreats on healthcare-related topics, and serve as a member of the BU - Warwick Collaboration Steering Committee


    Elected to membership, National Academy of Social Insurance, Service, Professional. (October 2000).

    Fellow of AcademyHealth. (June 1997).
    Elected a Fellow of the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy (now AcademyHealth)


    First Award, Editorial or Column in a Scholarly Journal, Society of National Association Publications, Research. (1987).
    First Award, Editorial or Column in a Scholarly Journal, Society of National Association Publications, for "The Emperor's New Clothes: Unraveling the Myths About Rationing" (with Jeffrey C. Merrill), Inquiry (Summer 1987)


  • Web LinksOpen or Close

  • DirectorshipOpen or Close

    National Program Director, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research Program (1992-present)

    National Program Director, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program (2012-present)