Division of Health Policy and Insurance Research (HPI) - Seminars

Health Policy and Insurance Research Seminar Schedule (formerly Pharmaceutical Policy Research Seminar)

Time: Noon - 1:00 PM
Date: Seminars are usually held the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month with some exceptions - Please refer to the schedule for exact dates.
Location:  Department of Population Medicine (DPM) Inui Conference Room A/B, Landmark Center, 401 Park Drive, Suite 401 East, Boston, MA 02215

Click here to view the background on the seminars

September 14, 2016





















Health Reform in China, Health Financing, Access to Medicines and Universal Health Coverage

Please Note the Harvard PPRS will not take place this day.
In lieu of today's PPRS, you are invited to attend Dr. Ye Lu's presentation
1:00 - 2:00 p.m. located at the
Boston University School of Public Health, Department of Global Health
801 Massachusetts Avenue, (Room L112)
Boston, MA
Ye Lu, PhD                                                                                                                       
Professor of Health Economics                                                                                         
Director of the Department of Health Economics
School of Public Health
Fudan University                                                    
Lu Ye is director of the Department of Health Economics, School of Public Health at Fudan University, China. She is a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Advisory Panel on Drug Policies and Management. She is also a member of Advisory Committee, the center of drug pricing evaluation for the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), as well as being an executive committee member of the China Network of Training & Research in Health Economics and Financing in the Ministry of Health (MOH). She has been a short-term consultant on e-learning in China for the World Bank. Her main research fields include the burden of disease, economic evaluation of health intervention program, drug pricing policy, and national essential medicine policy. She has worked in 20 research projects as principal investigator, with funding from the National Social Science Foundation, WHO, MOH, NDRC, and Shanghai Bureau of Health, as well as others.The study on essential medicine policy in China was funded by MOH, WHO, and UNDP, this project was one of nine projects which are reverent to new health care reform. The research findings and policy suggestion became very important reference in formulated new health care reforms. Her monograph, titled The Study on Essential Medicines Policy in China, was published in 2009. She worked in the Department of Essential Medicine and Pharmaceutical policy, WHO in Geneva as a visiting scholar in 2009. During that period, she has written a chapter of the World Medicines Situation titled Medicines Expenditures, which was published by the World Health Organization in August 2011. She has published more than 40 papers on domestic peer-reviewed journal as a first author or correspondent author since 2002.



September 28, 2016












FDA Regulation, Innovation, and the 21st Century Cures Act

Aaron S. Kesselheim, M.D., J.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School
Director, Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL)
Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Boston, MA
To read Dr. Kesselheim's bio:

Seminar Description:

In 2015, the House of Representatives passed the 21st Century Cures Act to promote approval of innovative drugs, and this year the Senate has provided preliminary approval to certain provisions in it. We will review some of the proposals in the bill and evidence about their possible impact.

October 12, 2016















Reducing Readmissions in High Risk Populations: Designing Approaches for the Most Challenging Patients

Dennis Ross-Degnan, ScD                                                                                                                                                                   Associate Professor, Department of Population Medicine
Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Seminar Description:

CMS has publicly reported readmission rates since 2009 and instituted financial penalties for hospitals with higher than expected readmission rates in 2012.  With added pressure for greater financial risk sharing, this has focused hospitals' attention on improving care transitions. Most interventions to date have targeted elderly Medicare patients or those with high risk diagnoses, such as heart failure. Key groups of challenging patients have been underrepresented, including non-elderly patients, non-English speakers, the homeless, or patients with substance abuse or mental health problems. This presentation will discuss the findings from a series of studies to reduce re-admissions in a small integrated safety net health care system, as well as the design of an intervention targeting multi-morbid patients with serious mental illness in a large national hospital system.

Background readings:

Balaban RB, Galbraith AA, Burns ME, Vialle-Valentin CE, Larochelle MA, Ross-Degnan. A Patient Navigator Intervention to Reduce Hospital Readmissions Among High-Risk Safety-Net Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial. JGIM 2015;30(7):907-15.





October 26, 2016







Cancer Treatment in Low and Middle Income Countries - Opportunities and Challenges

Anita K. Wagner, PharmD, MPH, DrPH
Associate Professor, Population Medicine                                                                                                                                      Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute





November 09, 2016










Health and Economic Burden of Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders

Tara Lavelle, PhD
Assistant Professor

Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies Investigator at the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health

Tara Lavelle is an Assistant Professor at the Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies and an Investigator at the Center for the Evaluation of Value and Risk in Health.  Her research addresses a range of topics related to the value of health care services delivered in the United States. Dr. Lavelle is particularly interested in advancing the use of comparative and cost-effectiveness research in pediatric populations. Previous work includes the development of novel methods for evaluating health and economic outcomes of childhood illness, and assessing preference-based quality of life outcomes in caregivers. Tara earned her PhD in Health Policy with a concentration in Decision Science from Harvard University in 2012 and was previously a postdoctoral research fellow in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit in the Division of General Pediatrics at the University of Michigan.

November 30, 2016







Outcomes-based Pharmaceutical Contracting – Moving from Paying for Pills to Paying for Value

Michael S. Sherman, MD, MBA, MS, CPE, FACPE
Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care

Seminar Description:

Will discuss impact of rising pharmaceutical costs and efforts by health plans to address by moving towards performance based reimbursement.


December 14, 2016
















An Investor's Perspective on Access to Medicine: an action plan for a Global Health Study
John Schaetzl
Chair, Supervisory Board
Access to Medicine Foundation

John Schaetzl chairs the Supervisory Board of the Access to Medicine Foundation, is the lead Director for SustainAbility.com an Associate at Meteos.org.UK and  advises governments, foundations  venture capital and institutional fund managers on investments which support sustainable outcomes in global health access, clean energy and economic development in emerging markets. 

John retired from General Electric Asset management after a decade of healthcare investing. Prior to that he was an executive with Bayer Pharmaceuticals, a consultant to the pharmaceutical industry and a University teacher and administrator. John is the co-author of Practical Politics and American Government (MacMillan) and Project 18: Effectively Educating Young Voters (Edinburg). He holds an honors degree from Harvard College and an MA in government from the University of Pennsylvania. 


Background readings:

Access to Medicine Index 2016


Sustainability: Making our future the cause of the present



December 21, 2016













The Outcomes and Costs of Cancer Recurrence

Michael Hassett, MD, MPH                                                                                                                                                                  Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School                                                                                                                 Attending Physician, Medical Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Michael Hassett is a medical oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He works in the Division of Population Sciences conducting health services research focused on quality, disparities, costs, and outcomes. Also, he works in the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers caring for patients with breast cancer; and as the Medical Director for Clinical Information Systems he develops clinical information system innovations to improve care quality and outcomes.

Seminar Description:

Most tumor registries do not capture information about cancer recurrence; they only report on the experiences of patients with de novo stage IV metastatic disease. Patients with recurrent cancer may differ from patients with stage IV metastatic disease. During the seminar, I will describe a series of algorithms that we created to identify patients who have recurrent breast, lung or colorectal cancer using claims and EHR data. Using these tools, I will explain the contribution of recurrence to cancer-related mortality and contrast costs for patients with recurrent vs. stage IV metastatic disease


January 18, 2017
















A Structured Approach to Oncologist-Led Serious Illness Conversations: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Susan Block, MD
Director, Serious Illness Care Program
Ariadne Labs
Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Dr. Susan D. Block, MD is the Director of the Serious Illness Care Program at Ariadne Labs, a joint center for health care innovation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard School of Public Health and Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She served as the Founding Chair of the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Founding Director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative Care. Dr. Block received her AB from Stanford University, her MD from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and completed residencies in both internal medicine and psychiatry at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.  She is board-certified in both fields.  Dr. Block has been a national leader in the development of the field of palliative medicine, has led major innovative educational and quality improvement projects in a variety of areas, is known internationally as an expert in medical education, faculty development, and health system change, and has contributed to research in medical education, palliative care, psychooncology, and health system change.  She is the author of over 200 publications and has won numerous awards for education, research and leadership.

Seminar Description:

In this presentation, I will describe the impact of a multi-component intervention on the well-being of patients with serious illness,  demonstrating that a brief clinician communication training program, coupled with tools and work flow changes,  can assure nearly universal access to high-quality serious illness conversations and significantly enhance patient well-being.

January 25, 2017












Value and Cancer Care: an ASCO Approach

Lowell E. Schnipper, MD                                                                                                                                                               Theodore W. and Evelyn G. Berenson Professor, Medicine, Harvard Medical School Chief, Hematology/Oncology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Clinical Director, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Cancer Center

Seminar Description:

The talk will review initiatives ASCO has undertaken on behalf of the oncology community to address the high costs of cancer care and develop a model framework that can be adapted to assess value of cancer therapies. This will encompass:

  • Incorporating cost into discussions between physicians and patients
  • "financial toxicity” associated with cancer therapies and its consequences
  • comparisons between model frameworks developed by ASCO and others to assess value of cancer treatments

Background readings:




February 08, 2017

















Overview of OptumLabs Cancer Research Collaborative

Henry Henk, PhD                                                                                                                                                                                      Vice President of Research                                                                                                                      OptumLabs                                                                                       

Dr. Henry (Joe) Henk joined OptumLabs as Vice President of Research in January 2016.  Joe specializes in health economics, econometrics, and health outcomes with particular expertise in econometric methods for working with observational data.  Prior to joining OptumLabs, Joe served as Principal Consultant and Head of Optum’s Health Economics and Outcomes Research unit.  Joe earned his PhD in population health from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s of Science in applied statistics from the University of Minnesota.  He currently serves as the executive sponsor and senior scientist working with the American Cancer Society, OptumLabs senior scientist to Stand Up to Cancer, and is co-leading the development of the OptumLabs Cancer Research Collaborative.


Seminar Description:

OptumLabs partners, including the American Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic, and Stand Up To Cancer, are vested accelerating cancer research, innovation and translation by giving our partners access to the largest U.S. linked patient database, bringing together world class thought leaders and the power of multi-partner collaboration.  This seminar will provide an overview of OptumLabs and formation of the OptumLabs Cancer Research Collaborative, and current and future data assets that may be used for cancer research.


Background reading:



March 08, 2017






















Identifying Targets for Youth Health Disparities Reduction Within and Outside of the Healthcare System

Benjamin Lê Cook, Ph.D. M.P.H.
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Director, Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research/Health Equity Research Lab
Cambridge Health Alliance
Cambridge, MA
Dr. Benjamin Cook is Director of the Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research and Health Equity Research Lab at Cambridge Health Alliance, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. He holds a Ph.D. in Health Policy from Harvard University and is a health services researcher focused on improving access and quality of treatment for individuals living with mental illness and/or substance use disorders. He has been PI of NIH R03 and R01 studies, and is currently Principal Investigator of an AHRQ R01 grant identifying the diffusion of comparative effectiveness research across racial/ethnic minority populations and a PCORI methods grant to improve understanding of treatment preferences among racial/ethnic minorities with depression and diabetes. 

Seminar Description:

The healthcare disparities literature has been primarily concerned with identifying areas of the healthcare system where disparities in access and quality exist. Recently, there has been a call to move from identification of disparities to interventions that reduce these disparities. In this presentation, I will discuss the many points of intervention both within and outside of the healthcare system that can be targeted for health disparities reduction. I present as examples two recently completed papers focusing on very different levels of the socio-ecological framework, but both concerned with reducing health disparities for racial/ethnic minority youth and adolescents. The first focuses on the potential for intervention in prescribing of psychotropic medications for youth. The second is a review of efforts to improve the school to prison pipeline for boys and young men of color living with mental illness. I present these studies to demonstrate the need for interdisciplinary, multi-level disparities reduction interventions, and briefly discuss the role of new insurance payment schemes in incentivizing these types of interventions. 

Background readings:





March 15, 2017


























The Impact of the ACA on Cancer Survivorship

Christine Leopold, PhD, Fellow                                                                                                                                                    Pharmaceutical Policy Research Fellowship                                                                                                                                        Department of Population Medicine, Division of Health Policy Insurance Research                                                                   Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Larissa Nekhlyudov, MD, MPH, Associate Professor                                                                                                                        Department of Population Medicine                                                                                                                                                  Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute                                                                                                      Medical Director and Practicing Internist, Brigham & Women's Hospital Primary Care Associates        

Seminar Description:

In 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented with the aim of expanding access to quality, affordable care. In this review we describe the ACA provisions that are most relevant for cancer survivors, provide available published evidence, and offer insights for future research. We found that provisions focusing on access to preventive care, access to quality and coordinated care, and coverage expansion and increased affordability suggest beneficial effects. However, we identified research gaps specifically addressing the intended and unintended consequences of the ACA on cancer survivorship care. Whether or not the ACA continues in its current form, research should address the effects of enhanced preventive services, innovative models of care and payment structures that promote quality of care, as well as access to affordable, equitable care for a growing population of cancer survivors.

Background readings:

Bailes JS, Kamin DY, Foster SE. The patient protection and affordable care act: exploring the potential impact on oncology practice. Cancer J Sudbury Mass. 2010 Dec;16(6):588–92.

Moy B, Polite BN, Halpern MT, Stranne SK, Winer EP, Wollins DS, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology Policy Statement: Opportunities in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to Reduce Cancer Care Disparities. J Clin Oncol. 2011 Oct 1;29(28):3816–24.

Downs CG, Fowler L, Kolodziej M, Newcomer LH, Ogaily MS, Purcell WT, et al. The Affordable Care Act: where are we now? An NCCN roundtable. J Natl Compr Cancer Netw JNCCN. 2014 May;12(5 Suppl):745–7.

McCabe MS, Bhatia S, Oeffinger KC, Reaman GH, Tyne C, Wollins DS, et al. American Society of Clinical Oncology statement: achieving high-quality cancer survivorship care. J Clin Oncol Off J Am Soc Clin Oncol. 2013 Feb 10;31(5):631–40.





March 22, 2017

















Decolonization: The Road to Change

Susan S. Huang, MD, MPH
Professor, Infectious Disease School of Medicine
Medical Director, Epidemiology and Infection Prevention
University of California, Irvine

Susan Huang, MD MPH is Professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Health Policy Research Institute at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, and the Medical Director of Epidemiology and Infection Prevention at UC Irvine Health. She received her MD degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and her MPH degree from the Harvard School of Public Health in Quantitative Methods. She completed her residency at the University of California San Francisco and her ID fellowship at the combined Harvard program at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Huang’s research focus is on the prevention of healthcare-associated infections. She has over 130 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Her clinical epidemiologic research has a major focus on multi-drug resistant organisms - identifying the population and environmental burden, risk factors for acquisition and disease, and preventative strategies for containment. Dr. Huang is the lead investigator of several randomized clinical trials on preventing MRSA disease and other healthcare-associated infections. She also has collaborations to study the regional prevention of MDROs in hospitals and nursing homes through simulation models and public health initiatives. Additional significant areas of research include surgical site infections, outbreak detection, and electronic efficiencies for infection prevention.

Seminar Description:

This seminar will focus on the drivers and obstacles impacting the translation of a major infection prevention strategy that reduces healthcare associated infections and antibiotic-resistant bacteria into best practice in the ICU and elsewhere in the healthcare system.

April 12,




















V-BID:  Making Health Care Great (Again)

A. Mark Fendrick, MD                                                                                                                                                                Professor, Division of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine                                                                                                  Department of Health Management and Policy                                                                                                                             Director University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design 

Seminar Description:

Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID) encourages the use of high-value clinical services by aligning out-of-pocket costs with the clinical value of services. These innovative plans are designed using the tenets of clinical nuance. These tenets recognize that 1) medical services differ in the amount of health produced, and 2) the clinical benefit derived from a specific service depends on the consumer using it, as well as when, where, and by whom the service is provided.  Evidenced by success in the private sector and its implementation in the Affordable Care Act, the TRICARE program, and Medicare Advantage (MA), V-BID is an example of a successful translation of health services research into policy.

Background readings:











April 26,






























Drug Prices in the US: Trends, Driving Factors and Implications

Enrique Seoane-Vazques, PhD                                                                                                                                                           Director, International Center for Pharmaceutical Economics and Policy                                                                                            Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Business and Administrative Sciences                                                         Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Seminar Description:

The increasing price of prescription drugs limits patient access and results in significant financial burden on patients and third party payers. We will assess trends in prices at market entry of new molecular entities and therapeutic biologics, describe market failures in the pharmaceutical sector, and discuss potential policy alternatives to address these failures.

Background Readings:

1. Aseel Bin Sawad, Enrique Seoane, Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio, Fatema Turkistan. Price Analysis of Multiple Sclerosis Disease-Modifying Therapies Marketed in the United States. Current Medical Research and Opinion, 2016;32(11):1783-1788. PMID: 27359262.

2. Bander Balkhi, Enrique Seoane, Rosa Rodriguez-Monguio. Osteoporosis Drugs Generic Competition, Pricing Structure and Dispersion among Payers. International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care 2017;32(6):385-392. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28065194



















New Date TBA 







Title: TBD

Mara Horwitz, MD                                                                                                                                                                        l  General Internal Medicine Research Fellow                                                                                                                            Department of Population Medicine                                                                                                                                                       Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Seminar Description:





May 24,


















Trends in Emergency Department Usage of Hospitalization

Arthur Hong, MD                                                                                                                                                                                       General Internal Medicine Research Fellow                                                                                                                                    Department of Population Medicine                                                                                                                                                         Harvard Medical School & Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute

Seminar Description:

More than 80% of hospital stays originate from the emergency department. Surveys of emergency medicine physicians detail numerous non-clinical reasons for hospitalizing patients, including a concerns about the lack of primary care follow-up. The resulting use of the hospital as a site of primary care introduces a host of potential patient coordination and safety problems with questionable benefit.

I will describe trends in the use of brief hospitalizations, including observation status, in a commercially insured diabetes population, and identify variations in practice that may represent suboptimal utilization of the hospital for patient care.