Richard Hillestad

Photo of Richard Hillestad
Adjunct Staff
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in engineering and applied science, University of California, Los Angeles; M.S. and B.S. in electrical engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Richard Hillestad has been involved in analyzing complex real-world environments, modeling them, and developing solutions.

In the area of health care, Hillestad recently completed a major study to estimate the cost and quality benefits of widespread adoption of health care information technology and to suggest policies that will enhance the likelihood of realizing those benefits; and he is leading a study to provide an objective assessment of alternative approaches to identifying patients while maintaining privacy and the security of electronic medical records.

In the area of transportation, Hillestad directed and completed a comprehensive policy analysis of multimodal options for freight transport in the Netherlands; the study evaluated the effectiveness of some 125 policy options for mitigating air pollution, noise, safety, and congestion impacts associated with freight movement by road, rail, and waterway while also considering the cost and economic impacts. He also directed a study of risk management and risk mitigation associated with the growth of Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport)—a study that led to important changes in the way aviation safety is managed at Schiphol and in the Netherlands. Prior to joining RAND, Hillestad developed route optimization and scheduling models for rapid transit systems.

Hillestad earned his M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and his Ph.D. in engineering and applied science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Previous Positions

Consultant, Environmental Dynamics; Technical Director, Systems & Computer Information, Inc.; Consultant, Hughes Aircraft Co.; Advanced Design Engineer, Lockheed California Co.

Recent Projects

  • Analysis of the savings and health care implications of electronic medical records
  • Development of a gaming model for the evaluation of counterterrorism policies
  • Identification of priority improvements for U.S. freight transportation infrastructure

Selected Publications

Richard Hillestad et al., "Can Electronic Medical Record Systems Transform Health Care? Potential Health Benefits, Savings, and Costs," Health Affairs, 24(5), 2005

Richard Hillestad et al., Health Information Technology: Can HIT Lower Costs and Improve Quality?RAND Corporation (RB-9136), 2005

Roger Taylor et al., "Promoting Health Information Technology: Is There a Case for More-Aggressive Government Action?" Health Affairs, 24(5), 2005

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Associated Press; Health Management Technology; Investor's Business Daily; Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report; Modern Healthcare; National Journal's Technology Daily; Reuters; Scripps Howard News Service


  • Creating Health ID Numbers Could Improve Patient Privacy

    As it considers ways to improve the efficiency and quality of U.S. health care, one issue that a new Congress should reconsider is the longstanding roadblock that has stalled efforts to create a system of unique patient identification numbers for every person in the United States, writes Richard Hillestad.

    Oct 30, 2008 The Hill