For Immediate Release: June 8, 2021

Lauren Adams

Washington D.C. (June 8, 2021)—AcademyHealth announced today the 2021 winners of its Annual Awards program. The awards program recognizes individuals and projects that have made significant contributions to the fields of health services research and health policy, while supporting AcademyHealth’s mission to improve health and health care for all.

AcademyHealth will honor the recipients of these prestigious awards at its 2021 virtual Annual Research Meeting on Tuesday, June 15.

Distinguished Career Award
Philip Lee, M.D. (Awarded Posthumously)

Visionary leader in health policy research and advocate for social justice, Philip Randolph Lee, M.D., was former Chancellor of the University of California San Francisco and Professor Emeritus of Social Medicine. During his long career, Lee was a practicing physician, an advocate for racial equity and health care reform, and a greatly admired and inspirational teacher, mentor and administrator. He died on Oct. 27, 2020, at the age of 96. As the nation’s first Assistant Secretary for Health and Scientific Affairs in Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), in President Lyndon Johnson’s administration, Lee was instrumental in the implementation of Medicare. Lee helped design Medicare so that hospitals had to comply with the Civil Rights Act in order to be eligible to receive Medicare payments. By early 1967, 95 percent of the nation’s hospitals were in compliance, thanks to Lee’s leadership as Assistant Secretary for Health.

He served as UCSF’s third chancellor, from 1969 to 1971, and he remained a respected and influential voice among the UCSF faculty until his departure from the University in 1993 to serve for a second time as Assistant Secretary for  Health in the department of Health and Human Services, this time under President Bill Clinton. As chancellor at UCSF, Lee presided over the ongoing and steady growth of biomedical research at UCSF while seeking to create a “fifth school” (complementing dentistry, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy) that would integrate health policy, public health, and the social and behavioral sciences. Lee launched the Health Policy Program at UCSF in 1972, which grew into an institute – now known as the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (IHPS). Today, the Institute provides insight for policy implementation through research on a broad range of factors that influence health, health equity, health care costs, and health care providers. 

Lee published more than 150 articles and co-authored many books in the health policy field. In 1998, he received the David Rogers Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges. In 2000, he was given the Institute of Medicine’s Gustav O. Lienhard Award for “outstanding national achievement in improving personal health care services in the United States,” as well as the American Public Health Association’s Sedgwick Medal. In 2001, the California Public Health Association presented him with the Henrik Blum Award.

This biographical information was adapted from UCSF Remembers Philip Lee, Former Chancellor and Health Care Reformer Who Served 2 US Presidents. For further reflections on his impact, see this blog post from AcademyHealth President and CEO Dr. Lisa Simpson.

The Distinguished Career Award is AcademyHealth’s highest career award, recognizing leaders who have made significant and lasting contributions to the field of health services research through advancement of science and methods, leadership, mentorship, scholarship and teaching, and the application of health services and policy evidence to improve health and health care.

Health Services Research (HSR) Impact Award
Population Point Prevalence of Sars-Cov-2 Infection Based on a Statewide Random Sample — Indiana, April 25–29, 2020
Nir Menachemi, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Nir Menachemi, Ph.D., M.P.H., is Professor, Fairbanks Endowed Chair, and serves as Chair of the Health Policy and Management department of the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. He is also a scientist at the Regenstrief Institute and teaches courses in the physician M.B.A. program at the IU Kelley School of Business in Indianapolis.

Dr. Menachemi’s research examines how organizational strategies and societal policies impact health and health care outcomes. As such, he works closely with health system and public health decision-makers. Since the start of the pandemic, he has served as principal investigator on the first and largest statewide random sample testing study that has generated breakthrough new knowledge about Covid-19 and garnered national, and international media attention. His team’s work led to an understanding of the asymptomatic rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection, quantified the age-specific risk of death given infection, improved the precision of hospital surge prediction models, and provided strong evidence that influenced pandemic-related policy in Indiana and beyond. His team included a multi-disciplinary group of epidemiologists, biostatisticians, public health, and infection disease experts.

Dr. Menachemi has published more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers, and his work regularly appears prestigious professional journals and is covered by the media. He earned a bachelors and master’s degree from the University at Albany, State University of New York and a Ph.D. in Health Services Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

The HSR Impact Award recognizes research that has had a significant impact on health and health care. The award is intended to identify and promote examples of outstanding research that has been successfully translated into health policy, management, or clinical practice in order to address cost, quality, access, equity and/or patient outcomes and the delivery of care.

Alice S. Hersh Emerging Leader Award
Inmaculada Hernandez, Pharm.D., Ph.D.

Inmaculada (Inma) Hernandez earned her Pharm.D. from the University of Navarra (Spain) in 2013 and her Ph.D. in Health Services Research and Policy from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016. She began her career as faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh in 2016. In 2021, she joined the faculty at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) as an Associate Professor with tenure. Her research has focused on evaluating clinical and economic outcomes of oral anticoagulant agents and studying pharmaceutical pricing. She has published over 70 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts with more than 50 as first or senior author. Some of these articles have been published in top-tier journals, including JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, JAMA Internal Medicine, and Stroke. Her research has been featured in the main media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, Forbes, and BBC. In 2018, she was recognized on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. She is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

The Alice S. Hersh Emerging Leader Award recognizes scholars early in their careers as health services researchers who show exceptional promise for future contributions to the field.

Publication-of-the-Year Award
Physician Work Hours and the Gender Pay Gap — Evidence from Primary Care
Ishani Ganguli, M.D., M.P.H. & Hannah Neprash, Ph.D.

Physician Work Hours and the Gender Pay Gap — Evidence from Primary Care was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in October 2020. This study addresses the critical role of work hours by challenging the long-held assumption – based on survey data alone – that the gender pay gap is partly due to women working fewer hours. In a collaboration with a physician researcher and economists, the study authors examined detailed electronic health record and billing data for 24 million primary care visits across the U.S. to show that female primary care doctors earned 11 percent less in visit revenue per year owing to 11 percent fewer visits per year, despite these female primary care providers (PCPs) spending more face-to-face time with patients than male PCPs per visit, per day, and even per year. Per visit, female PCPs earned the same revenue yet spent 2.4 more minutes with the patient, recorded more diagnoses, and placed more orders. This amounted to a gap of 87 cents to the dollar earned per hour of direct patient care.

The publication provides evidence that volume-based productivity is a flawed measure of physician work and identifies volume-based payment as a modifiable mechanism of the gender wage gap. It demonstrates the urgency of primary care payment reform specifically, since primary care is critical to improving health outcomes, has an increasingly female workforce, and faces higher rates of burnout. However, the publication argues, volume-based payment might not reward effort equitably nor value time well-spent.

Ishani Ganguli M.D., M.P.H., is an Assistant Professor of Medicine and a primary care physician at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care. She received her A.B., M.D., and M.P.H. from Harvard University and completed internal medicine/primary care residency and a health policy and management fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research focuses on the value of ambulatory care, the consequences of low value care, and how health care policies and primary care payment and delivery models shape patient and clinician behavior, health outcomes, and spending. Dr. Ganguli serves as an Associate Editor at JAMA Network Open. She is also a journalist who has written about science and health care for The Boston GlobeReutersThe New York Times, and The Washington Post, among other publications.

Dr. Hannah Neprash is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. Dr. Neprash studies health economics, focusing on how clinicians respond to financial and non-financial incentives. Her research uses novel sources of data to examine how clinician decision-making drives utilization, spending, access, and quality in health care.  She is particularly interested in research questions that will inform evidence-based policy during a time of rapid transformation in health care payment and delivery systems. In addition to her academic career, Dr. Neprash has experience in federal and state health policy – including time at the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the Health Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee, and the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission. She has a Ph.D. in health policy (economics track) from Harvard University and a B.A. in economics from Oberlin College.

The Publication-of-the-Year Award recognizes the best and most relevant peer-reviewed, scientific work that the fields of health services research and health policy have produced and published in the prior calendar year.

Outstanding Dissertation Award
Quality and Access of Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder in Medicaid
Alex Gertner, Ph.D.

The United States is in the midst of a drug overdose epidemic that shows no sign of abating. Studies suggest the rate of overdose deaths among Medicaid enrollees is several times higher than the general population rate. Given the continuing overdose epidemic and the elevated overdose risk among Medicaid beneficiaries there is a need for research on access and quality of opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment in Medicaid. Treatment with the medications buprenorphine or methadone, known as opioid agonist treatment (OAT), has the strongest evidence of reducing overdose mortality from OUD. Nevertheless, these medications are vastly underutilized in practice.

The winning dissertation consists of three chapters that provide evidence for improving access and quality of buprenorphine treatment for OUD in Medicaid. The first chapter uses national data to examine whether Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act increased use of OAT examines whether limits in the number of OAT providers in states limited the effect of expansion on OAT use. The second chapter examines whether improvements in buprenorphine treatment access may be coming at the cost of quality using data from North Carolina Medicaid. The third chapter combines analyses of North Carolina Medicaid claims and interviews with buprenorphine prescribers to understand factors that drive retention in treatment.

Alex Gertner completed a Ph.D. in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He’s currently a fourth-year medical student at the UNC School of Medicine. His research uses multiple methods to evaluate policies and practices that affect mental health and addiction outcomes.  

The Outstanding Dissertation Award honors an outstanding scientific contribution from a doctoral thesis in health services research or health policy.