Upcoming Seminar at the ITA (SITA)

Please join the MGH Institute for Technology Assessment on Tuesday, June 14 at Noon via Zoom for a presentation by Soroush Saghafian, Ph.D

Can Public Reporting Cure Healthcare?

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Abstract: Public reporting of medical treatment outcomes is being widely adopted by policymakers in an effort to increase quality transparency and improve alignment between patient choices and provider capabilities. We examine the soundness of this approach by studying the effects of quality transparency on patient choices, hospital investments, societal outcomes (e.g., patients’ social welfare and inequality), and the healthcare market structure (e.g., medical or geographical specialization). Our results offer insights into why previous public reporting efforts have been less than fully successful and suggest ways in which future efforts can be more effective. Specifically, our analytical and simulation results calibrated with empirical data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reveal that increasing quality transparency promotes increased medical specialization, results in decreased geographical specialization, and induces hospitals to invest in their strengths rather than their weakness. Furthermore, increasing quality transparency in the short-term typically improves social welfare and reduces inequality among patients. In the long-term, however, we find that increasing transparency can decrease social welfare, and fail to yield socially optimal outcomes, even under full transparency. Hence, a policymaker concerned with societal outcomes should accompany increasing quality transparency with other policies that correct the allocation of patients to hospitals. Among these, we find that policies that incentivize hospitals are generally more effective than policies that incentivize patients. Finally, our results indicate that, to achieve maximal benefits from increasing quality transparency, policymakers should target younger, more affluent, or urban (i.e., high hospital density area) patients, or those requiring nonemergency treatment.

Bio: Dr. Soroush Saghafian, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He also serves as a faculty affiliate for the Harvard Ph.D. Program in Health Policy, the Harvard Center for Health Decision Science, the Harvard Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government (M-RCBG), the Harvard Data Science Initiative, the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and is an associate faculty member at the Harvard Ariadne Labs (Health Systems Innovation). He is an expert in healthcare operations management and has been collaborating with a variety of hospitals including the Mayo Clinic and Mass General Hospital (MGH) to improve their operational efficiency, patient flow, medical decision-making, and more broadly, healthcare delivery policies. He is also the founder and director of the Public Impact Analytics Science Lab (PIAS-Lab) at Harvard, which is devoted to advancing and applying the science of analytics for solving societal problems that can have public impact. Dr. Saghafian’s research has appeared in the news, including in pieces and interviews by The Hill, National Academy of Medicine, New-Meical.net, Industry Global News 24, Global Health News Wire, Eureka Alert (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Managed Healthcare Executive, and the Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences (INFORMS). He has won various awards for his research, including the INFORMS MSOM Young Scholar Prize “[for] outstanding contributions to scholarship in operations management,” the Inaugural INFORMS Mehrotra Research Excellence Award “for significant contributions to the practice of health applications through operations research and management science modeling and methodologies,” INFORMS Pierskalla Award “for the best research paper in healthcare”, and the Production and operations Managements Society (POMS) College of Healthcare Best Paper Award.