Dr Zirui Song: Working at the Intersection of Clinical Medicine and Health Policy

July 20, 2017

Zirui Song, MD, PhD, resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, discussed his research interests, which center on strategies to control healthcare spending while improving the quality of care. He also expressed the importance of examining health equity within the United States healthcare system.

Zirui Song, MD, PhD, resident at Massachusetts General Hospital, discussed his research interests, which center on strategies to control healthcare spending while improving the quality of care. He also expressed the importance of examining health equity within the United States healthcare system.

Transcript (slightly modified)

What is the main focus of your research?

The main purpose of my work has been to evaluate the strategies for controlling the growth of healthcare spending. These have involved several different approaches: those that work on prices, those that work on quantities, and those that work on the collective product of prices and quantities, which is spending.

Most of my work to date has centered around evaluating a global payment contract called the Alternative Quality Contract in Massachusetts. In addition, some of the related work has surrounded evaluations of Medicare payment changes for physicians and for health plans and Medicare. Largely, the broader theme is, what can policy makers do to slow the growth of healthcare spending while we try to, at the same time, improve the quality of care that patients get.

What topics would you like to explore next for your research?

Well, going into the future, I would like to continue doing work at the intersection of clinical medicine and health policy. I plan to continue doing work evaluating policy strategies for controlling the growth of healthcare spending while improving the quality of care. The overarching theme, or goal, is to improve the value of healthcare spending in the United States. The value for the dollar that we spend, whether that be the public dollar for the Medicare or Medicaid system, or the private dollar for populations under 65.

I would also like to pursue work that looks at the equity in our healthcare system, because for all of the policies that are trying to do good, one of the things that we can’t forget is the equity and equality of what we do as physicians, as policy makers.