Miami Herbert professor receives grant for telehealth and opioid crisis study

Niam Yaraghi secures NIHCM Foundation funding to probe telehealth's effects on opioid management.
Miami Herbert professor receives grant for telehealth and opioid crisis study

Niam Yaraghi, an associate professor of business technology at the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School, received a $50,000 grant from The National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation (NIHCM Foundation). His study will examine the expansion of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how a subsequent telehealth rollback has affected the opioid crisis.

Yaraghi, who has a secondary appointment as an associate professor of health management and policy, stood out in the competitive NIHCM Foundation grant process. Out of 200 applicants, only six secured grants for 2024, with Yaraghi being the only University of Miami faculty member to achieve this distinction.

A nonresident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation, Yaraghi is using his grant to study how new technologies such as telehealth affect the likelihood of physicians prescribing opioids for patients experiencing pain, and how that, in turn, might affect the United States’ ongoing opioid crisis.

“The research I’m doing examines how we can generally use information technology, and in particular AI, to fight against the opioid crisis,” said Yaraghi, who was nominated for the Provost’s Award for Faculty Excellence and Impact in 2023, and has a Ph.D. in management science and systems from the State University of New York at Buffalo. “The AI tools we have now are imperfect, in the sense that they’re not widely adopted and are very user-unfriendly.”

Yaraghi’s findings may be of immediate and long-term use to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and other payers crafting reimbursement policies, and may also be of value to health systems and clinicians looking to adopt AI applications.

“Believe it or not, of every single dollar that we spend in the United States, 20 cents goes to health care,” he said. “So, it is a major part of our overall economy.

“There are a lot of research questions at the intersection of health care, information, and economics,” added Yaraghi, who received a UM Provost’s Research Award in 2021. “My research on health information technology is primarily targeted toward how we can use information technology to increase the efficiency of health care services.”

Based in Washington, D.C., The National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to transforming health care through evidence and collaboration. The NIHCM Foundation annually gives $1 million in grants to researchers and journalists, with an eye toward supporting independent, investigator-initiated research. 

“The list of grantees we are excited to support this year stand to accelerate progress on addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, understanding the impact of AI on health care spending and outcomes, and other important elements shaping health care costs and quality,” NIHCM Founding President and CEO Nancy Chockley said in a statement. The NIHCM began operating in 1993, with the NIHCM Foundation springing into existence five years later.