Emily Lawton


Portrait of Emily Lawton, assistant professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.

Title(s): Assistant Professor
Department: Health Management and Policy
Office: N238 CPHB
Phone: (319) 467-0090

Emily J. Lawton, PhD, joined the Department of Health Management and Policy in the summer of 2023 as a tenure-track assistant professor. Dr. Lawton’s research spans health services, health economics, and health policy. She conducts both qualitative and quantitative research, using a wide variety of data including Medicare and other claims data. Dr. Lawton is passionate about conducting rigorous research to address pressing health challenges, collaborating with multidisciplinary scholars and stakeholders, as well as preparing students with critical knowledge and skills to have an impact throughout their careers.

Together, Dr. Lawton’s research evaluates health care policies and practices, with emphasis on health care delivery and quality, patient safety, hospital discharges and readmissions, emergency department care, health care disparities, and financial incentives. As part of this concentration, her research investigates the intended and unintended effects of health care payment policies on key patient, provider, and payer outcomes as well as vulnerable populations that may be distinctly affected. This includes prior and current research on accountable care organizations, the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program (HRRP), the Hospital-Acquired Condition Reduction Program (HACRP), and the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (HVBP) Program. She has collaborated with multidisciplinary groups of health services researchers, policy researchers, economists, and clinicians, including through the Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation (IHPI) and the University of Michigan School of Public Health. On top of this, Dr. Lawton aims to use the knowledge gained from such research to inform policy and practice — to bring about improvements in health care quality, patient safety, disparities, and spending. Her research has been published in high-impact journals.

Prior to obtaining her PhD, Dr. Lawton conducted health policy research at the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center. Her research has been featured in Time magazine and cited in the 2012 ACA Supreme Court case.

Dr. Lawton earned a Ph.D. in Health Services Organization and Policy, with a concentration in Economics, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She also earned a Master of Public Policy degree and bachelor’s degrees in both Mathematics and Psychology, all with honors.  

Research Interests

  • Health policy, health economics, and health services research
  • Health care delivery
  • Quality of care
  • Patient safety
  • Care transitions, hospital discharges and readmissions
  • Health care disparities
  • Vulnerable patient groups
  • Health care costs, spending, and price transparency
  • Financial incentives, payment policy design, value-based care models
  • Public reporting
  • Unintended effects of health care policies