Kai Yeung, PharmD, PhD

“My work helps to maximize the benefit to society for every dollar spent on health care.”

Kai Yeung, PharmD, PhD

Assistant Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute


Kai Yeung is a pharmacist and scientist with expertise in pharmaceutical economics and outcomes research. He is interested in optimal incentives to encourage value in health care. In particular, Dr. Yeung does research in applied econometrics, health insurance design, and cost-effectiveness analysis. He received his PharmD from the University of Southern California and his PhD in pharmaceutical economics from the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research & Policy Program at the University of Washington.

Before joining KPWHRI in the fall of 2016, Dr. Yeung was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Washington where he sought to understand payer acceptability of alternative payment models for high-priced curative therapies. He found that while payers were struggling with the affordability of high-priced cures, they were not aware of new payment models, but when educated by the research team, had high levels of acceptability to some of the new models.

Dr. Yeung’s dissertation assessed the impact of a novel prescription drug benefit, the Value-Based Formulary (VBF) which used cost-effectiveness analysis to inform drug copayment tiers. He utilized econometric methods to quantify the impact of the VBF on beneficiary medication utilization behavior, health outcomes and health care expenditures from beneficiary and payer perspectives. For this work Dr. Yeung successfully competed for two research grants: a multidisciplinary research training grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the NIH and a health services research dissertation grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Different portions of this project have been recognized by the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research 2014 and 2015 annual meetings as the best student podium presentation award, and at the Vancouver Health Economics Methodology 2016 meeting as the best student paper award.

During his PharmD training, Dr. Yeung has cultivated a broad perspective in the expanded use of evidence and analytics in decision-making, having worked with a diverse group of health care stakeholders, including:

  • patients (clinical pharmacy),
  • health care payers (Kaiser Permanente Drug Information Services),
  • federal agencies (AHRQ and FDA),
  • professional organizations (Academy for Managed Care Pharmacy), and
  • international technology assessment organizations (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, UK).

Research interests and experience

  • Health Services and Economics

    Pharmacy benefit design, applied econometrics, healthcare costs, value-based insurance design, cost-effectiveness analysis, behavioral economics, alternative payment models, health policy evaluation

  • Medication Use & Patient Safety

    Pharmacoepidemiology of opioid use, identification of early onset Alzheimer’s disease

  • Behavior Change

    Design and evaluation of incentives for medication adherence

  • Preventive Medicine

    Patient and physician shared savings models to incentivize healthy behavior

Recent publications

Yeung K, Basu A, Hansen RN, Watkins JB, Sullivan SD. Impact of a value-based formulary on medication utilization, health services utilization, and expenditures. Med Care. 2016 Aug 30. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Sullivan SD, Yeung K, Vogeler C, Ramsey SD, Wong E, Murphy CO, Danielson D, Veenstra DL, Garrison LP, Burke W, Watkins JB. Design, implementation, and first-year outcomes of a value-based drug formulary. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2015 Apr;21(4):269-75. PubMed

Carlson JJ, Gries KS, Yeung K, Sullivan SD, Garrison LP Jr. Current status and trends in performance-based risk-sharing arrangements between healthcare payers and medical product manufacturers. Appl Health Econ Health Policy. 2014 Jun;12(3):231-8. doi: 10.1007/s40258-014-0093-x. Review. PubMed

Gold LS, Yeung K, Smith N, Allen-Ramey FC, Nathan RA, Sullivan SD. Asthma control, cost and race: results from a national survey. J Asthma. 2013 Sep;50(7):783-90. doi: 10.3109/02770903.2013.795589. Epub 2013 Jun 12. PubMed


Medication Costs

Paper by Dr. Kai Yeung takes top prize in 2016 PAN Foundation Challenge

A paper first-authored by KPWHRI Assistant Investigator Kai Yeung, PharmD, PhD, recently won first prize in the 2016 Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation Challenge

Read about it in Recognition.

behavior change

Among Group Health’s greatest coups? We kicked tobacco’s butt!

Joan DeClaire remembers how the whole organization went mano a mano with America’s biggest killer—and won.

Read it in News and Events.

KPWHRI In the Media

Lipid Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Screening

Cholesterol screening for kids sparks debate (again)

Final Update Summary: Lipid Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Screening. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Sept. 2016