Chief Executive Officer
Sheila Sankaran is Chief Executive Officer at KNG Health Consulting. She leads the day-to-day management of corporate functions, as well as qualitative research tasks and projects, drawing from her 26-year career in the public and private sectors.
Ms. Sankaran directs the KNG team supporting the learning system for CMS’s Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) initiative and Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement (CJR) model. She oversees the development and production of newsletters and other communication vehicles, focus group and interview protocols, and data presentations. Ms. Sankaran’s work at KNG Health also includes supporting the implementation of Medicare disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment policy through analysis of public comments submitted in response to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule each year. Her other areas of expertise include: communications and publishing, structured interviews/discussions, stakeholder consultations, training and course development, and survey design and management.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Ms. Sankaran worked for the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS), and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the ERS, she was Executive Editor of Amber Waves, the agency’s flagship magazine devoted to agricultural economics research. At the BLS, she worked for two national survey programs: the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey and the Consumer Expenditure (CE) survey.
Ms. Sankaran has an MA in economics from the University of Maryland College Park and a BS in economics from the University of Delaware.
Lane Koenig is President and Founder of KNG Health Consulting and Director of the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation Practice. He is a healthcare economist with over 20 years’ experience in the public and private sectors. As President of KNG Health Consulting, Dr. Koenig has overall responsibility for the quality and direction of KNG Health’s research. He serves as Project Director and Principal Investigator for many studies, particularly those related to healthcare reform proposals, healthcare provider payments, value-based purchasing, and delivery system innovations. With expertise on hospital and post-acute care payment and quality issues, his work regularly assesses the potential impact on hospitals and other providers of proposed legislation or regulations. He has assisted both industry and Federal and state governments in the development and assessment of healthcare provider payment policies and value-base purchasing initiatives.
Prior to founding KNG Health in 2007, Dr. Koenig was the senior economist in the Office of Policy at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Before joining CMS, Dr. Koenig was a Senior Scientist in the healthcare finance practice at The Lewin Group.
Dr. Koenig has led over 100 quantitative and qualitative health policy and health economic studies and has published over 20 peer-reviewed studies in journals, such as Health Affairs, Health Services Research, and Medical Care. He graduated with Honors from the University of Florida, Gainesville and earned his PhD in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Principal Research Associate
Berna Demiralp is a Principal Research Associate at KNG Health Consulting and Director of the Evaluation and Health Economics practice. She is an applied micro-economist with expertise in health, labor and demographic economics. She specializes in designing and implementing impact evaluations with particular emphasis in quasi-experimental designs. Dr. Demiralp evaluates Medicare programs and alternative payment models; analyzes cost, utilization, and patient outcomes associated with acute and post-acute care; and assesses cost-effectiveness of treatment alternatives. She evaluated the direct and spillover effects of Medicare’s Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program on hospital readmissions using an interrupted time series design. She served as project director on KNG Health’s evaluation of the effects of participation in Accountable Care Organizations on care quality and Medicare payments for high-cost populations, using propensity score matching and difference-in-difference estimation. She conducted a comparative effectiveness study of long-term care hospitals in caring for critically ill patients, using an instrumental variable approach. She is currently leading the KNG Health team’s task in monitoring the performance of the State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative, including Maryland’s new All-Payer model, applying trend analysis and statistical process control to identify changes in cost and utilization in acute and post-acute care settings.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Dr. Demiralp held positions in consulting and academia. As Senior Research Associate at Optimal Solutions Group and later at Summit Consulting, Dr. Demiralp served as Project Director and Lead Analyst for projects funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Labor, and the Small Business Administration. She has extensive experience in designing and implementing mixed-method, rapid-cycle evaluations, including the evaluations of SBA’s Regional Clusters Initiative and CMS’ Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration. Dr. Demiralp also worked as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at Old Dominion University and as an Associate Economist at RTI International.
Dr. Demiralp has published in peer-reviewed journals including Medical Care, Health Services Research, European Economic Review, Journal of Macroeconomics, Eastern Economic Review and Journal of Economics and Finance. She received her PhD in economics from Johns Hopkins University and her BA from Davidson College.
Principal Research Associate
Robert C. Saunders is a Principal Research Associate at KNG Health Consulting in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation Practice.
Dr. Saunders is an expert in the development, testing and reporting of quality and value measures from administrative and clinical data systems. While at the National Committee for Quality Assurance, he developed the Plan All-Cause Readmission measure that would result in a suite of risk adjusted utilization measures for health plans to use in private and public accountability programs. He is an expert in the design of public reporting programs for health care organizations, having developed or consulted on the design of NCQA’s Health Plan Ratings program, the Office of Personnel Management’s Clinical Quality, Customer Service, and Resource Use (QCR) incentive program for federal health insurance plans, the Quality Rating System for plans on the federal and state Exchanges, and a variety of state and special population reporting systems. At Vanderbilt University Dr. Saunders led quality of care and utilization analyses of children’s behavioral health services in Medicaid and military health systems.
Dr. Saunders earned his PhD in Health Services Research and MPP in Policy Development & Program Evaluation from Vanderbilt University and his BA in Political Science from Loyola College (Md.).
Aishwarya Agarwal is a Research Associate in the Evaluation and Health Economics Practice at KNG Health. Ms. Agarwal has experience in conducting quantitative analyses and statistical modelling in the domains of healthcare policy and development studies, and has a particular interest in micro-econometric methods and applications in health economics.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Ms. Agarwal worked as a Research Assistant at the Poverty, Health and Nutrition Division at International Food Policy & Research Institute where she was involved in assessing the geospatial impact of health policies in India, focusing on slum and rural households.
Ms. Agarwal received a Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Delhi University.
Elizabeth Hamlett is a Research Associate in the Evaluation and Health Economics Practice at KNG Health. Ms. Hamlett conducts qualitative analyses, primarily conducting systematic literature reviews focused on orthopedic procedures and post-acute care providers. She has researched and analyzed the treatments associated with total lower joint replacement, Medicare coverage indications, and other topics related to orthopedic care. She has worked with several health care databases including Medicare claims, the Kids’ Inpatient Database, and State Ambulatory Surgery and Services databases. Since joining KNG, Ms. Hamlett has supported CMS’ Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative and Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model through learning system activities, such as dissemination of information and data analysis. She has also reviewed and summarized comments submitted in response to Medicare Disproportionate Share Hospital payment policies outlined in the Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule. Recent projects she has worked on have included support and technical evaluation of musculoskeletal costs and prevalence rates, quality measures, and alternative payment models.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Ms. Hamlett managed a social psychology laboratory and worked with the non-profit organization, the Dialysis Clinic.
Ms. Hamlett earned a Bachelor of Science in policy analysis and management from Cornell University in 2015.
Senior Research Associate
Jennifer T. Nguyen is a Research Associate in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation Practice at KNG Health. Ms. Nguyen monitors and analyzes legislative and regulatory developments related to Medicare payment and quality reforms, particularly as they pertain to hospitals. She has conducted numerous analyses for hospital and provider associations, foundations, and federal agencies to help them with evaluating payment and quality reforms and developing policy strategies to support their organizational priorities. She has extensive experience in the design and implementation of qualitative research–systematic literature reviews, surveys, and in-depth interviews. Recent projects she has worked on have included providing support and technical expertise on provider reimbursement and coverage policies in Medicare, quality measures, alternative payment models (Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Initiative, Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement), pharmaceutical drugs, orthopedic procedures and devices, and physician practice expenses. Her published work includes articles in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, The American Journal of Accountable Care, Foot & Ankle International, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, Journal of Arthroplasty (forthcoming).
Prior to joining KNG Health, Ms. Nguyen worked for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and at the Office of Planning, Analysis and Evaluation within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
Ms. Nguyen received her Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park and her BA in Political Science at Villanova University.
Julia Sheriff is a Research Assistant in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation Practice at KNG Health where she conducts quantitative analyses with a variety of healthcare data sources, including Medicare claims data. Ms. Sheriff has conducted analyses to understand the resource needs of Medicare patients with end-stage renal disease. She has also provided support to multiple pharmaceutical companies in obtaining approval for New Technology Add-on Payments. These supplemental hospital payments broaden access to innovative high-value treatments among the Medicare population.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Julia was a tenured teacher in the Montgomery County Public School system (Maryland) and Assistant Director of the Peabody Children’s Chorus. Julia earned a Bachelor’s of Music in Piano Performance from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University as an award and scholarship recipient. She has earned a Certificate in Data Science from Springboard.
Senior Research Associate
Marie Steele-Adjognon is a Senior Research Associate in the Evaluation and Health Economics Practice at KNG Health. She has formal training and experience in conducting quasi-experimental analyses, simulation models, demand projections, econometric analysis of both cross-sectional and panel data, and instrumental variable techniques.
Dr. Steele-Adjognon conducts episode-based analysis, following patients’ episodes of care starting from admission to the short-term acute care hospital to the post-acute care (PAC) setting and then for a period of time following the post-acute care treatment. Common health outcomes she evaluates are mortality rates, readmission rates, and total healthcare spending. Examples of her work include evaluating how well different risk adjustment methods are able to capture variations in health outcomes; monitoring health outcomes, as well as PAC utilization, over time as different policies and programs change; simulating how new potential health care policy ideas might affect the number of people insured and how they are insured (through employer, public resources, etc.); and evaluating how individual hospitals compare to others in terms of market share and health outcomes within their geographic proximity using Medicare claims files. One specific project she is working on is evaluating how Maryland’s unique SIM All Payer system affects discharge rates, length of stay and Medicare and Medicaid charges at short term acute hospitals in addition to post-acute care settings throughout Maryland for the dual eligible population.
Dr. Steele-Adjognon earned her BS in Mathematics and Financial Economics from University of Maryland Baltimore County and her PhD in Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics from Michigan State University.
Senior Research Associate
Jing Xu is a Senior Research Associate in the Healthcare Reform and Payment Innovation practice at KNG Health. Dr. Xu has expertise in aging policy and healthcare related issues. She has extensive experience in conducting data analysis and policy evaluation to inform healthcare payment reform. Using claims and survey data, her research examines healthcare payments, costs, quality, and utilization. Examples of her work include: an analysis on quality and market performance of claims-based measures of the Post-Acute Care (PAC) Long-term Care Hospital (LTCH) Quality Reporting Program; a study of healthcare utilization among chronically critically ill Medicare beneficiaries, comparing between Fee-for-Service (FFS) enrollees and Medicare Advantage enrollees; an examination of the characteristics of Medicare FFS beneficiaries by PAC discharges and conditions; and an estimation of the payment impacts on LTCHs associated with legislative and regulatory developments.
Prior to joining KNG Health, Dr. Xu worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Hilltop Institute where she evaluated Maryland Medicaid programs. She conducted pharmaceutical health services research among Medicare Part D enrollees when she was a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She gained first-hand experience about the policy and practical challenges of end-of-life care as a Graduate Intern at Vidant Medical Center.
Dr. Xu earned her PhD in Gerontology (Policy) from the joint program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Baltimore County, her MA in Anthropology at East Carolina University, and her BS degree in Biotechnology at Fudan University.