Working smarter, not harder, to improve healthcare transparency

Healthcare is a complex, often overwhelming subject, and the effort to match patients with providers based on patient needs and provider ability, known as the patient provider alignment (or PPA) problem, has consistently proven difficult to tackle. In the past, this was thought to have been exacerbated by the limited availability of information available to the public regarding providers and their performance, which could help facilitate better patient provider matches. However, despite efforts to increase transparency by making healthcare data open and available to the public, the PPA problem still persists.  In this episode, I am joined by Soroush Saghafian professor with Harvard University, whose research in the INFORMS journal Operations Research, “Can public reporting cure healthcare? The role of quality transparency in improving patient-provider alignment,” takes a deep dive into exploring this issue and offering some potential solutions. 

Interviewed this episode:

Soroush Saghafian

Harvard University

Dr. Soroush Saghafian is interested in using and developing operations research and management science techniques that can have significant public benefits. He is 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. His current teaching focuses on Machine Learning and Big Data Analytics tools for solving societal problems.  His current research focuses on the application and development of operations research methods in studying stochastic systems with specific applications in healthcare and operations management. He has been collaborating with a variety of hospitals to improve their operational efficiency, patient flow, medical decision-making, and more broadly, healthcare delivery policies. 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 Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and is an associate faculty member at the Harvard Ariadne Labs (Health Systems Innovation).

Dr. Saghafian’s research has appeared in the news, including in pieces and interviews by The Hill, National Academy of Medicine,, Industry Global News 24, Global Health News Wire, Eureka Alert (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Managed Healthcare Executive, and INFORMS. He has won various awards for his research, including the INFORMS MSOM Young Scholar Prize (2021) “[for] outstanding contributions to scholarship in operations management,” the Inaugural INFORMS 2020 Mehrotra Research Excellence Award “for significant contributions to the practice of health applications through operations research (OR) and management science (MS) modeling and methodologies,”  POMS 2019 College of Healthcare Best Paper Award (first place)INFORMS 2018 Public Sector Best Paper Award (second place),  POMS 2017 College of Healthcare Best Paper Award (second place), INFORMS MSOM (Manufacturing & Service Operations Management) Journal 2016 Best Paper AwardINFORMS  MSOM Society 2016 Best Paper Award of Service Special Interest Group (SIG)INFORMS 2015 Junior Faculty Interest Group (JFIG) Best Paper Competition (Honorable Mention), INFORMS 2012 MSOM (Manufacturing and Service Operations Management Society) Best Student Paper Award, 2012 IOE Richard Wilson Prize, 2010 INFORMS Pierskalla Award “for the best research paper in healthcare”University of Michigan College of Engineering Outstanding Ph.D. Research Award, Production and Operations Management (POMS) 2011 College of Healthcare Operations Management best  paper award (second place), 2010 Murty Prize for best research paper in optimization, and the 2007 IOE Bonder Fellowship award for applied operations research, INFORMS 2011 Doing Good with Good OR Award  (Honorable Mention), and POMS College of Supply Chain 2013 and 2009 Best Student Paper Award (Honorable Mention).

Dr. Saghafian serves  on the editorial board of a few journals including Operations ResearchProduction and Operations Management, INFORMS Service Science, and IISE Transactions. He also serves as an AE or referee for various journals including Operations ResearchManagement ScienceManufacturing and Service Operations Management, Mathematical Reviews (American Mathematical Society), Operations Research LettersNaval Research Logisticsand  Production and Operations Management.

Dr. Saghafian has also served as a chair/co-chair or a review panel member in various committees including: INFORMS Pierskalla Award for the Best Paper in Healthcare, INFORMS Healthcare Applications Society Best Student Paper Award,  INFORMS MSOM Healthcare Special Interest Group, INFORMS MSOM Best Student Paper review panel, POMS College of Healthcare Operations Management Best Paper Award, and the review panel for International Conference on Health Care Systems Engineering. Dr. Saghafian’s research has been supported through various grants from National Science Foundation (NSF)Mayo Clinic, and Harvard University (HKS), among others.