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Health Care Management Researcher and Consultant
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

I apply organizational and behavioral sciences to study how organizations and people
learn to improve their performance, especially amid complexity and ambiguity, in health care.

Alden Lai is a Sir Arthur Newsholme Scholar and a Ph.D. student in Health Policy & Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Working with faculty at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, his dissertation focuses on organizational learning in health care organizations. He has previously conducted research in behavioral medicine and health professions education, and collaborated with faculty at Fukushima Medical University, University of Minnesota, and Harvard University. He has consulted for ministries of health, state governments, health care systems, and medical device companies in Japan and Singapore for projects on elderly care policy, talent management of the health care workforce, and chronic disease management. Alden received his B.A. (Psychology) from National University of Singapore, and an Master of Public Health from The University of Tokyo as a Japanese Government Monbukagakusho Scholar.

Current Work

Organizational Learning in Health Care

Learning is core to human behavior and organizational life. Organizational learning is a complex phenomenon that involves enabling structures as much as processes. Examining how patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) in the United States conceptualize and recognize the need for patient safety, and the processes of which they implement ways to make care safer, my dissertation research will elucidate the mechanisms that link learning at the individual level of the health care provider, group level of the inter-professional health care teams, and organizational level of the PCMH.

I anticipate my dissertation to shed insight into how we can transform health care organizations into learning organizations, and in doing so, facilitate the proliferation of other impetuses like health literacy and health equity.


Professional Development for the Health Care Work Force

The health care workforce has multiple professional development needs that are often neglected in their formal training, ranging from self-care for the prevention of burnout, providing care that meets the health literacy needs of patient populations, to organizational-level change to make their workplace better care providers. From a management perspective, talent recruitment and retention are also especially pertinent in developed economies, as stakeholders strive to provide adequate and cost-effective elderly and social care.

I have advised Japan and Singapore's ministries of health on talent management and job design strategies for home nurses and social workers. I have also worked with a large health care system and medical school in Singapore on faculty evaluation, training development for medical students, and inter-professional education. As Guest Lecturer and Visiting Scholar, I now conduct seminars on self-care and organizational change to practicing doctors in Vietnam and nursing students in Japan.


Previous Work

Behavioral Medicine for End-Stage Renal Disease Patients

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) is a debilitating condition that requires a complex treatment regime of regular dialysis, drastic changes to diet and fluid intake, medications, and physical activity. ESRD and its treatment also constitute substantial spending in health care both for the patient and society. From 2008 to 2014, I was involved in a mix of qualitative, quantitative, reviews, and randomized controlled trial studies that sought to reduce psychosocial stress, improve health outcomes of ESRD patients, and further our understanding of behavioral aspects for the design and implementation of effective interventions. With these works published in Patient Education & CounselingPeritoneal Dialysis InternationalPLOS ONE, and Psychology, Health & Medicine, they have collectively informed Singapore's largest dialysis provider, National Kidney Foundation's care provision and patient engagement protocols.

Testimonials

Having worked with Alden for years on international research projects, I can attest to his exceptional capacity for research; his keen insight into the nature of things, outstanding gift for academic writing, and the perfect blend of academic integrity, commitment, speed, and good sense that guides his actions.
— Aya Goto, Professor of Health Information & Epidemiology, Fukushima Medical University, Japan
Strong conceptual ability to simplify complex information into succinct insights. Approachable and empathetic manner makes him a joy to work with. Passionate about life and new perspectives.
— Li June Han, Senior Client Partner, Hay Group Korn Ferry, Singapore
Alden impresses me as a young man who is passionate about life and his work, who has an immense capacity for academic work, and tremendous ability to join the dots. Conversations with him are never boring. I always learn something new.
— Yvonne Ng, Senior Director (Education), National Healthcare Group and Executive Director, NHG College, Singapore
Alden’s dedication and passion for research, education and policy devoted to improving health and wellbeing, have been evident through the years I have known him as a member of EHPS. Alden espouses the values of promoting health and has been creative in organizing educational forums in health globally. Alden has excellent vision for his field and a contagious excitement for all activities he is engaged with.
— Irina Todorova, Past President of the European Health Psychology Society
Resourceful, imaginative, and diligent. These are the three words that come to mind when I think about Alden. Alden was in my team and we worked together closely for more than a year. I was impressed with his keen eye for interesting and important topics, in which he frequently shared his unique perspectives that shed new light on seemingly hackneyed issues. An emerging scholar working in the intersection of health and management; should definitely be on the radar of health management scholars!
— Issac Lim, Head, Health Outcomes and Medical Education Research Unit, National Healthcare Group, Singapore