August 15, 2018     
About Us

Our Mission

The mission of The Abacus Group is to provide exceptional programs and services to improve the health of individuals, the quality and effectiveness of the healthcare system, and control rising health insurance costs.

Who We Are

The Abacus Group is a consulting and research firm that has developed and offers a specialized set of services, Abacus Health Solutions, to improve the quality of health and control rising health insurance costs. Our clients include:

  • State and Federal agencies
  • Academic institutions
  • Health insurers
  • National consulting firms
  • Private employers

The principals of Abacus are all highly credentialed, nationally recognized behavioral scientists with academic affiliations to both Brown University and Harvard Medical School. Abacus currently has a staff of over 20 employees, with specialists in information technology, interactive and transactional Web-based application development, health education and health psychology, health insurance experts, and a team of research associates. Please allow us to introduce ourselves to you.

Michael J. Follick, Ph.D. is founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Abacus Group. He has been recognized nationally as an expert in the field of healthcare quality research. Dr. Follick is a Clinical Professor of Community Health at Brown University Medical School. He has authored over 76 articles, book chapters, and books as well as being a frequent speaker at professional meetings and conferences. Dr. Follick has received numerous grants and contracts from sources such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to develop tools to help patients and physicians make health decisions. As a member of the Rhode Island Quality Institute, he is leading the evaluation of an e-prescribing pilot project using technology to connect doctors and pharmacies in an effort to reduce medication errors and improve patient safety. He serves on the Rhode Island Governor's Advisory Council for Healthcare. Dr. Follick is a member of the Society for Behavioral Medicine and is a past President and member of the Board of Directors.

David K. Ahern, Ph.D. is Chief Science Officer and one of the original founders of The Abacus Group. Dr. Ahern has a distinguished career in behavioral medicine, clinical research, and computer applications in medicine. He also is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology) at Harvard Medical School and on the staff of the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital (Partner's Health Care System hospitals). Dr. Ahern is the National Program Director of the Health e-Technologies Initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to foster research in e-health programs for health behavior change and chronic disease management. Dr. Ahern has published over 60 original articles and several book chapters as well as being a popular speaker for numerous professional organizations.

Edward Aberger, Ph.D. is a Vice-President and one of the original founders of The Abacus Group. He has oversight responsibilities for consulting services operations, program development, and finances. Dr. Aberger has extensive experience with the application of behavioral science principles to health care cost containment. He has directed the operations of a workers' compensation third party administrator providing services to an insurance carrier operating in four New England states, and has also designed, implemented and managed an Occupational Medicine Center for both the treatment of acute injuries and rehabilitation of workers injured in industrial settings. Dr. Aberger has numerous publications and presentations to his credit. Previously, he was a member of the medical staff of the Miriam Hospital in Providence and on the faculty of Brown University Medical School.

A. E. (Gus) Adams, Ph.D. is a Vice-President at the Abacus Group. His primary role is in strategic oversight of company operations and new program development and implementation. Dr. Adams has experience with the application of behavioral science principles to health care consumer behavior, as well as expertise in health insurance operations. He played a lead role in developing a highly effective model for management of workers' compensation injuries and an ongoing role in the design and analysis of a Technical Resource Center for the State of Rhode Island to improve the quality of medical treatment delivered through the workers' compensation system. He has several publications and presentations in the areas of chronic pain and prevention and safety. He has also been co-investigator on Small Business Innovations grants to develop and test a comprehensive occupational prevention and safety training program. Dr. Adams was previously a member of the clinical faculty of Brown University Medical School.

Heidi Steinitz, Ph.D. is Director of Special Programs at The Abacus Group, including the myMedicationAdvisor® Program. She is a clinical psychologist specializing in behavioral medicine, with research and clinical experience working with patients and providers in many areas of health care, including primary care, oncology, gynecology and infertility, cardiology, organ transplantation, and community mental health. Previously, Dr. Steinitz was an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and a medical therapeutic liaison in the pharmaceutical industry. Currently, Dr. Steinitz provides clinical consultation to traumatized patients at the Rhode Island Workers Compensation rehabilitation facility, and is a clinical Assistant Professor of Community Health at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Linda Loiselle, M.B.A. is the Director of RI Health, an employer-based health insurance purchasing coalition. Ms. Loiselle is responsible for facilitating the sales and delivery of health insurance products to over 150 employer groups. Her main responsibilities include developing and implementing customer service standards and interventions to improve health care access and quality of care to individuals. In addition, she staffs and maintains a customer advocacy call center and acts as a liaison between employers, their brokers, and the health insurance community. Previously, Ms. Loiselle managed one of the largest insurance sponsored worksite wellness programs in the country.

Joseph Wroblewski, M.B.A. is Director of Operations, Technical Services. He has hands-on and managerial experience in the design and development of database, web, and integration solutions in the healthcare industry. He is also well versed in security concepts necessary to ensure personal healthcare data confidentiality. He was a principal contributor in Abacus' development of the myMedicationAdvisor®, myHealthMaximizer®, and Good Health Gateway® platforms. His responsibilities include the strategic and tactical management involved in the creation and delivery of Abacus' technology-based products and services. He also plays a significant role in new program development and implementation. He currently serves in an advisory role as a member of the Board Technology Committee for Gateway Healthcare. Joe's team is comprised of a group of dynamic and committed professionals who help deliver quality technology-based programs that produce better health plan performance and outcomes for our clients.

Sandra Emidy serves as a Project Coordinator at The Abacus Group. She has played an integral role in developing the user interface design specifications for the myMedicationAdvisor® web site. 

Our Technology Tools

The Abacus Group's team of experienced health psychologists, health educators, and information technology developers working with scholars from leading academic institutions developed two interactive web sites that are part of the Abacus Health Solutions suite of services. These include:

myMedicationAdvisor® is a web site devoted to promoting the safe and cost-effective use of medications through better communication between you and your doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. This web site also includes useful information and unique personal health management tools to help you get the most out of your medication. You can submit your medication record for a medication review and ask questions electronically or over the phone to a licensed pharmacist.

myMedicationAdvisor® has been developed by The Abacus Group with partial funding provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) (Contract # 290-01-0026).

myHealthMaximizer® helps people make healthy lifestyle changes in increasing physical activity, eating healthier foods, and quitting smoking. Improving these health behaviors can reduce people's risk for developing cancer and other chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease, and obesity. A unique feature of this web site is the personalized information that you receive after responding to questionnaires, which can help you become more motivated and focused on health goals specific to you. A grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) funded the initial development of myHealthMaximizer® (Grant# 1 RA25 CA88095-01).

We would like to acknowledge the Content Advisory Panel who reviewed content on these web sites under the AHRQ or NCI contracts. The listing of these consultants does not imply their personal endorsement of these web sites rather reflect the fact that they provided professional review of the content.

Our Content Consultant from the University of Rhode Island to myMedicationAdvisor®.

Kristina Ward, Pharm.D., has been a pharmacist for 10 years. For the past five years she has focused on providing Drug Information to patients and health care professionals. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Ward was previously Co-Director of the Drug Information Service at Shands Jacksonville and a member of the clinical faculty at the University of Florida College Of Pharmacy.

Our Content Consultants from Brown University to myHealthMaximizer®.

The Centers for Preventive and Behavioral Medicine at Brown Medical School and The Miriam Hospital, a Lifespan partner, is dedicated to transdisciplinary research, training and education, directed at advancing fundamental knowledge and its applications concerning the central role of behavior, as it interacts with biology and environment, to influence health and illness across the lifespan at the individual and population levels.

The Centers' research and educational programs span the wellness-disease continuum from primary prevention, to screening, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, chronic disease management and end of life. Three major research foci address the leading lifestyle causes of disease burden and premature death (tobacco dependence, obesity/diet, and physical activity). The Centers' research also cuts across the leading chronic diseases and conditions that affect health and quality of life including cancer, cardiovascular, respiratory, diabetes, and infectious diseases (i.e., HIV-AIDS). The faculty is committed to both fundamental research on discovering the mechanisms underlying behavioral factors in health and illness, as well as to applied research on the translation of these discoveries for evidence-based clinical and community-based dissemination interventions and to inform health policy.

Chris Sciamanna, M.D., M.P.H. is a Staff Research Physician at The Miriam Hospital. He is a board certified general internist and has completed a Masters' in Public Health. His research centers on understanding the potential for using computers to encourage health behavior change in primary care. He has developed and published preliminary results of a computer program to deliver tailored smoking cessation feedback to smokers in primary care settings and is extending this approach to physical activity feedback. He has research grants from the National Cancer Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to understand the feasibility of incorporating these computer-tailored health messages into routine primary care. He is also funded by Boston University's Roybal Center for Enhancement of Late-life Function to develop a clinical measure of older adults' perceived benefits to becoming physically active.

Bess Marcus, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Brown University Medical School and Miriam Hospital. Dr. Marcus has authored over 100 published research papers in the area of physical activity and health. She has considerable research experience in developing and testing computer systems for health behavior change.

Judy DePue, Ed.D., M.P.H. is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Brown University School of Medicine and a counseling psychologist at the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine. Dr. DePue has conducted extensive research on smoking cessation and other preventive care interventions including improving physical activity. In addition, she has experience developing interventions for primary care and community settings and with under-served populations.

Kim Gans, Ph.D., M.P.H., L.D.N. is an Associate Professor (Research) in the Department of Community Health at Brown University. Dr. Gans has extensive experience in developing and evaluating behavior change programs in the area of nutrition and weight control. She has created and tested several dietary assessment tools and many nutrition education materials for diverse audiences.

In addition, we would like to acknowledge the Professional Input Teams who provided guidance on scientific and evidence-based content under the AHRQ or NCI contracts. The listing of the following consultants does not imply their personal endorsement of these web sites or any specific content; rather, it reflects their participation in the fulfillment of the contract or grant from AHRQ and NCI.

Professional Input Team for myMedicationAdvisor®.

Richard W. Besdine, M.D., Interim Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences, Brown Medical School; Professor of Medicine, Greer Professor of Geriatric Medicine and Chief of the Division of Geriatrics in the Department of Medicine, Brown Medical School; Director of the Center for Gerontology and Health care Research, Brown Medical School.

Bruce Berger, Ph.D., Professor and Head of Pharmacy Care Systems, Auburn University.

Ronald P. Jordan, R.Ph., FASCP, FAPhA, Pharmacist and President, HCaliber Consulting Corporation. Past president of the American Pharmaceutical Association and the Rhode Island Pharmaceutical Association.

Joel M. Kaufman, M.D., Neurologist, Rhode Island Hospital, Clinical Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurosciences (Neurology), Brown University School of Medicine, and Executive Director/CEO Lifespan/Physicians Professional Services Organization.

Donald Letendre, Pharm.D., Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Professor of Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Rhode Island.

James Weintrub, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery, Brown University. Chief, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Providence Veteran's Administration Hospital, Providence, RI.

Professional Input Team for myHealthMaximizer®.

David Abrams, Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and Professor of Community Health. Director, Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, Brown Medical School and The Miriam Hospital.

Paul Buonvino, Information Technology Consultant, PJB Enterprises.

Rosa Carmona-Barros, M.S., Project Director, Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine, Brown University.

Peter Cukor, Ph.D., Telemedicine Consultant.

Michael Goldstein, M.D., Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown Medical School, and Associate Director for Clinical Education and Research, Bayer Institute of Health Care Communication.

Elizabeth Avery Harden, Focus Group Consultant.

Charles Neighbors, Ph.D., M.B.A., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown Medical School and Staff Psychologist, Miriam Hospital.

George Papandonatos, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, Brown University.

Last reviewed and updated: August 12, 2004.

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