Katz PhD Student’s Research Recognized by Society for Medical Decision Making

Monday, November 21, 2016

Zlatana Nenova, a PhD student in the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business, was selected as a Lee B. Lusted Finalist at the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) Annual Meeting in Vancouver, BC, Canada for her research on chronic kidney disease. Katz PhD Student’s Research Recognized by Society for Medical Decision Making

SMDM provides professionals involved in health care decision making who work in a hospital, university, foundation, industry, or government with opportunities for collaboration, professional growth, networking, and mentorship. 

The Lee B. Lusted Finalists Prize Student Fund recognizes students’ original research in medical decision making. The top 10 student abstract submissions in each category are selected as semi-finalists for presentation during the poster session. 

Nenova’s research study, titled “Patient Characteristics and Resource Allocation for Individuals with Chronic Kidney Disease,” examines the relationship between patients with different comorbidities. Comorbidities are when two chronic diseases or conditions exist simultaneously in a patient. Her work examines the different disease progressions and resources needed for patient care. 

For the study, Nenova, Jerrold May, professor of business administration at Katz, and John Hotchkiss, associate professor of critical care medicine and medicine strategic analysist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, collected data from nearly 30,000 chronic kidney disease patients at 11 VA facilities. 

“We hypothesized that grouping patients based solely on the characteristics of their health state will translate into clusters of individuals with different appointment and hospitalization frequencies,” she says. 

The results of the study found that significant in-patient length of stay and out-patient appointment frequency differences were primarily associated with group comorbidity differences. 

“I attended the SMDM annual meeting because I wanted to learn more about the research that is currently being done in the area of medical decision making. My experience was great.  I met new people primarily studying and teaching in the field of public health from universities across the United States, Canada, and Europe,” Nenova says.

Nenova’s research was inspired by her interest in developing models to help understand and better treat patients with chronic conditions. 

“I was fortunate to meet Dr. John Hotchkiss who has been instrumental in the development of this model and other components of my dissertation. My advisor Jerrold May has supported me every step of the way, not only by guiding me in the model building and data collection process, but also by providing the financial support I need to attend multiple conferences,” she says.

Nenova has also received support from Pittsburgh-area organizations.

“The Pittsburgh Veterans Engineering Resource Center generously provided me with the opportunity to obtain the data necessary for my work and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center allowed me to use their new computing system Bridges, without which I would not have been able to complete much of my work,” she says. 

Nenova says learning about her peers’ research is helpful when looking for practical questions that she can examine using business analytics modeling techniques. Nenova, May, and Hotchkiss plan to submit the paper to the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.