Zirui Song Brings Expertise on Health Policy and Medicine to HCP

July 6, 2017

Zirui Song Teaches

Zirui Song, who has been a part of the Harvard community for over a decade, brings his work on health care financing, quality and insurance markets to HCP as an assistant professor of health care policy on July 1, 2017.

Song’s research has focused on health care spending and quality under global payment, the impact of Medicare payments to providers and the economics of competitive bidding in Medicare Advantage.

Song has worked closely with HCP faculty. Most notably, he has led a multi-year evaluation of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Alternative Quality Contract and research on the impact of payments to private plans on competitive bidding in Medicare Advantage with guidance from Michael Chernew, who was the chair of Song’s dissertation committee. Song has also worked with Chernew and John Ayanian on studying the effect of Medicare fee changes on health care spending and physician behavior. In addition, Song has collaborated with other HCP faculty as well as faculty at the Harvard School of Public Health, Kennedy School, Department of Economics, and other institutions on related research concerning physician payment, Medicare and delivery models for disadvantaged populations.

“Health policy is fascinating because it combines insights from medicine and economics to shape the incentives and organizations that have meaningful implications for people's lives,” Song says. He has brought this perspective to his work outside of academia as well, including at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and at the Health Policy Commission for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In his research, Song is inspired by work that may improve the value of care, inform delivery system reform efforts led by providers on the front lines and enhance the equality of opportunity and outcomes faced by different segments of the population under health care reform.

For the future, he says, the most pressing questions we face center on preserving the sustainability of our health care system while improving the quality of care, as well as encouraging providers and payers to work together in this effort without losing sight of the patient experience.

Song was a head teaching fellow and tutorial leader in the Introduction to Health Policy course at Harvard Medical School directed by Haiden Huskamp and Barbara McNeil, in which he also lectured on payment reform from 2011-2015. He has received three Certificates of Distinction in Teaching from Harvard University and two tutorial teaching awards from Harvard Medical School.

Song attended medical school at HMS, received his PhD in health policy (economics track) from Harvard, and recently completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. He will continue his medical practice as a general internist in the outpatient clinic and inpatient teaching service at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also a faculty affiliate at the HMS Center for Primary Care.

Song is a recipient of the AcademyHealth Article-of-the-Year award, Seema Sonnad Emerging Leader in Managed Care Research Award from the American Journal of Managed Care, and the Award for Clinician Investigation from the New England Society of General Internal Medicine. He is also a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 for Science and Healthcare. Before residency, he served on the Massachusetts Medical Society Task Force on Health Care Reform and was a pre- and post-doctoral Fellow in Aging and Health Economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Song said, “It is an honor to join the faculty, students, and staff at HCP. The opportunity to study critical issues in our health care system in a rigorous way with the mentorship of role models in the field is truly a privilege. I am very grateful for the prior years of collaboration with faculty and trainees at HCP, who have helped prepare me to continue doing work that aims to make a meaningful impact.” 

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