Fellowship in Health Policy and Insurance Research

Health care delivery and health insurance systems continually change. They need to adapt to changing population demographics, scientific advances, and evolving social, economic, and political contexts. Sound evidence is needed to inform policy and program changes by leaders of regulatory, delivery system, and payer organizations, and other stakeholders in health systems. Such evidence is often lacking, due in part to a substantial shortage of individuals capable of generating it.

The Fellowship in Health Policy and Insurance Research (HPI) seeks to address this gap between research evidence and policy by training clinician-researchers, medical and PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, mid-career university faculty and policy decision-makers. The fellowship is based at the Department of Population Medicine (DPM) of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and led by faculty of the Division of Health Policy and Insurance Research who are well known nationally and internationally for their expertise in methodologically sound policy research and working with large databases. 

Fellows develop and lead projects situated in and taking advantage of funded research of HPI faculty who provide intense one-on-one mentorship. HPI faculty research areas include: population-level system and policy research focused on cancers, diabetes, mental illness, and cardiovascular diseases; pharmaceutical policy research including research on opioid use, highly-priced specialty medicines, and medicines in low and middle-income country health systems; health care delivery science focused on interventions to improve value; health insurance policy research focused on impacts of high-deductible health plans, value-based insurance designs, innovative provider payment models, and health reform strategies such as health insurance exchanges; health insurance policy research focused on children and families, especially those with chronic conditions; and policy research methods advances in decision analysis, longitudinal quasi-experimental designs, and in the efficient and rigorous use of claims and other routinely collected data for policy research.

Fellows may also be interested in collaborative research projects with the Betsy Lehman Center, a non-regulatory agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts whose mission is to improve the safety and quality of health care. Such research could be conducted in large claims, hospital, and survey databases to which the Center has access.

Fellows can take full advantage of the unique setting of the DPM: Fellows benefit from outstanding training resources at Harvard University, have access to large researchable claims and clinical databases through DPM-led initiatives, and opportunities to understand real-life policy decision making in a premier US health plan. Fellows attend a seminar series in which they present their work and interact with leading researchers and policymakers on domestic and international health and insurance policy issues.

Since 2001, the fellowship has trained more than 60 fellows and five visiting scholars from:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Cyprus
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Korea
  • Mexico
  • Norway
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United States
  • United Kingdom

Fellows have researched wide-ranging topics including care-seeking behavior in urban slums in Bangkok, impacts of universal health coverage in Thailand, effects of pay-for-performance policy in the UK, and effects on access to care and health outcomes of various policies and programs (prior authorization, high deductible health insurance, prescription drug monitoring programs) in the US.

Fellows have received support from the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the Commonwealth Fund’s Harkness Fellowship, the Fulbright Program, and multiple other US and international fellowship funds. 

Upon completion of the fellowship, fellows early in their careers have secured faculty positions at major universities or positions in industry. Mid-career professionals have used the fellowship experience to advance in academic, care delivery, payer and other leadership positions.

Drs. Anita Wagner and Laura Garabedian co-direct the Fellowship. Please direct inquiries about the Fellowship in Health Policy and Insurance Research to Elizabeth Grillo (elizabeth.grillo@point32health.org).