Research Bulletins

Risky Business

Companies are under increasing pressure to manage their reputations on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. The risk of lost revenue, bankruptcy, or boycotts because of a negative reputation on ESG is known as ESG risk. Tamara A. Lambert, associate professor, accounting and Bright Asante-Appiah, assistant professor, accounting at Lehigh, studied whether external auditors effectively help their clients manage ESG risk. While external auditors are not permitted to provide advisory services to clients, they may provide pre-assurance and assurance work on ESG and sustainability reports issued by their audit clients as part of non-audit services (NAS). Their study found, based on the amount of negative ESG-related media coverage, that companies that took advantage of the NAS were effectively helped by the external auditor, further showing that auditors have developed expertise to assist their clients with ESG risk.

All Together Now

Collaboration is increasingly important for innovation in science, but what factors should researchers use to choose collaborators and projects? In their study, Seth Richards-Shubik, associate professor in economics at Lehigh and Katharine A. Anderson, senior methodologist at Interos, Inc., found that researchers based these decisions on expected quality of the publication (in the form of a journal impact score) and the costs of producing that paper with that group of collaborators. It turns out that research teams with more collaborators tend to produce papers with higher impact, without increasing individual costs of communication and coordination.

Patient Planning

Patients are often transferred between hospitals due to lack of treatment capabilities or bed unavailability at the hospitals where they’re first treated. These transfers often have negative effects. Xiaosong (David) Peng, chair, department of decision and technology analytics at Lehigh and his coauthors set out to discover the impact of patient transfers on length of stay, readmission and mortality in their paper published in July. They found that hospitals tend to transfer patients within their own health system. However, for transfers due to lack of treatment capabilities, hospitals may want to look beyond their own health system when choosing the transfer destination. For transfers due to bed unavailability, patients are likely to experience more positive outcomes if they are transferred within the same hospital system. The researchers suggest that hospitals consider differentiating the two types of transfers for better care outcomes.

How Much?

In a recent article, “The Valuation of Medical Expense Damages in Tort,” in the Tulane Law Review, George A. Nation III, professor of law and business at Lehigh discusses what he says is the opaque, counterintuitive and complex pricing, billing and payment system used by U.S. hospitals. He says this system is based on exorbitant prices (5 to 10 times reasonable value) listed in a Charge Description Master. According to Nation, one of the problems caused by the CDM price system is that many hospitals screen patients in the emergency department to identify those injured in an accident and then attempt to recover the excessive CDM fee for the care provided to these patients by refusing to use the patient’s health insurance, even if the patient is in-network.  Rather, the hospital sues the liability insurance carrier for the party that caused the accident for the entire CDM price. As a result, these patients lose the benefit of their health insurance. Nation also argues that personal injury judgments are greatly inflated by fictitious and exorbitant medical expenses.

Losing Their Religion?

A new study discovered that when a sectarian university prominently advertises its religious aspects, it unintentionally implies to prospective students and their parents that greater resources and monetary budgets are devoted to religion with fewer resources left for other academic programs— especially disciplines that seem diametrically opposed to religion. Rebecca Wang, assistant professor, marketing at Lehigh, and her coauthors, say this can be a problem for schools casting a wide net as the proportion of prospective students who are interested in pursuing quantitative or science-based studies, such as STEM and business, is increasing. The researchers say their goal was to make sectarian schools aware of the unintended consequences overtly religious advertising might have on potential constituents and suggest tailoring ads to specific audiences.

Good From Gratitude

The key to relationships between supervisors and employees during the pandemic? Liuba Belkin, associate professor of management at Lehigh, discusses gratitude on the ilLUminate podcast. Listen here.