The National Academy of Medicine announced Monday the election of SHP’s Loren Baker, PhD, for his contributions to our better understanding of physician practice costs and health outcomes, medical technology adoption, the proliferation of out-of-network billing and gender disparities in physician income.
Baker, an economist, is Professor of Medicine and Bing Professor of Human Biology at Stanford Medicine, and also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
Much of Baker’s work has been focused on the economic and policy issues that affect health care providers and insurers. “We have many great health care providers, and many great treatments, but in order to deliver great care we need a health-care system that is organized and functions well to provide access and make sure people can afford it” he said.
“Working on these questions can be complicated, but rewarding” Baker added. “We don’t usually have the ability to do controlled experiments, so we have to sort through things happening in a more complex world to look for the best approaches.”
Some of Baker’s most prominent studies have examined the effects of growth in the size of physician practices, large multi-specialty practices, and hospital ownership of physician practices, finding influential evidence that these are often associated with higher prices. Other prominent work has examined the effects of physician ownership of imaging equipment, gender inequalities in physician pay; and surprise out-of-network billing.
Like other faculty at Stanford Health Policy, Baker has been focusing some of his latest research on the COVID-19 pandemic. In one project he and colleagues are looking at the racial and ethnic disparities in health-care delivery since the virus hit the United States. They’re are examining about 1,000 medical practices nationwide and how their care and treatment has changed since the beginning of 2020.
“We hope to be able to better understand how Black, white and Hispanic patients have fared in the time of disruption and if that’s associated with health problems for any groups,” he said. “Ultimately it will be valuable to understand the longer-term implications of the pandemic and how you might address them within the health-care system.”
Baker also teaches courses for Stanford undergrads, graduate students, and medical students about the U.S. health-care system and other issues. “One of the most rewarding things I get to do is help prepare the next generation of leaders in health and health policy,” he says.
Becoming a member of the Academy is one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau. The new members, elected by current members, have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.
“This distinguished and diverse class of new members is a truly exceptional group of scholars and leaders whose expertise in science, medicine, health, and policy will be integral to helping the NAM address today’s most pressing health challenges and inform the future of health and health care for the benefit of everyone around the globe,” said Dzau.
Baker is among four faculty at Stanford Medicine to be elected to the Academy this year. “I am deeply honored to receive this recognition,” said Baker. “The National Academies have made enormous contributions to efforts to improve health and health care and I look forward to contributing to those efforts. I am also enormously indebted to my colleagues and to the School of Medicine and the University for their tremendous support and inspiration.”