Health Decision Sciences Center

Investigators and staff of the Health Decision Sciences Center (HDSC)

Karen Sepucha, PhD
Dr. Sepucha is the director of the Health Decision Sciences Center in the General Medicine Division at Massachusetts General Hospital and an assistant professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Her research and clinical interests involve developing and implementing tools and methods to improve the quality of significant medical decisions made by patients and clinicians. Dr. Sepucha was the medical editor for a series of five breast cancer patient decision aids (PtDAs) developed by the not-for-profit Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making. The PtDAs have won seven media awards and Dr. Sepucha has led the dissemination of these programs to dozens of academic and community cancer centers across the country. She is also responsible for efforts to implement shared decision making tools into primary and specialty care at Mass General. Her recent research has focused on the development of instruments to measure the quality of decisions. The decision quality instruments have been used in a national survey of medical decisions, and a subset of the items is being evaluated for use in CAHPS as part of the primary care medical home certification. Dr. Sepucha has been active in local, national and international efforts to improve decision quality, including the International Patient Decision Aids Standards collaboration. She has her Ph.D. in Engineering-Economic Systems and Operations Research at Stanford University with a focus in decision sciences.

Leigh Simmons, MD, is an internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

Her research interests include patient engagement in care and shared decision making. Dr. Simmons is on the staff at the John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation (www.stoecklecenter.org) and the MGH Health Decision Sciences Center where she studies the use of decision aids to help patients and clinicians in the shared decision making process. Her clinical practice is with the Internal Medicine Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital.

In addition to her clinical and research interests, Dr. Simmons is a medical student educator and directs the internal medicine clerkship for Harvard Medical School students at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Leigh Simmons, MD
Dr. Simmons is an internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her research interests include patient engagement in care and shared decision making. Dr. Simmons is on the staff at the John D. Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation and the MGH Health Decision Sciences Center where she studies the use of decision aids to help patients and clinicians in the shared decision making process. Her clinical practice is with the Internal Medicine Associates at Massachusetts General Hospital. In addition to her clinical and research interests, Dr. Simmons is a medical student educator and directs the internal medicine clerkship for Harvard Medical School students at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Lilisbeth Perestelo-Perez, MPsych, PhD
Dr. Perestelo-Perez is a summer 2015 fellow with the HDSC. She is leading investigator in the development, evaluation and implementation of decision support interventions for shared decision making in Spain. With a PhD in Clinical and Health Psychology awarded in 2007, she completed postdoctoral work as a research fellow at the Knowledge and Evaluation Research Unit (Mayo Clinic) under the supervision of Victor Montori (2008-2009) and at Health Decision Sciences Center (Massachusetts General Hospital) under the supervision of Karen Sepucha (2015) focusing on shared decision making and health services research. She works as a clinical psychologist-health services researcher at the Evaluation Unit of the Canary Islands Health Service and she is collaborating with others Agencies for Health Technologies Assessment in Spain and with the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality for the NHS. She is also member of REDISSEC (Health Services Research on Chronic Patients Network) in Spain and a co-founder of the Latin American Network for Medical SDM and Patients’ Participation. Her main scholarly focus is on shared decision making, and she has been the principal investigator on several projects, including, most recently, on the effects of a shared decision making approach for people with diabetes, depression, breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

Lauren Leavitt, MA
Ms. Leavitt is a Program Manager at the HDSC. She manages multiple projects integrating shared decision making and decision aid utilization into routine care across the Partners HealthCare System for Population Health Management. She oversees quality improvement activities and research projects that help to engage patients in their healthcare decisions. She also assists in designing and presenting clinician training programs to promote shared decision-making concepts and best practices aimed at improving clinical conversations, decision quality and patient engagement. She serves as liaison between the Partners primary care and specialty care clinics, Healthwise, and the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation in Boston. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from UMass Amherst and a Masters of Arts degree in Health Communication from Emerson College.

Felisha Marques, MPH
Ms. Marques is a Senior Clinical Research Coordinator at the HDSC. She oversees activities around implementing shared decision making with patients in the primary care and specialty care settings at MGH and its affiliated community health centers.  Ms. Marques works on expanding relationships with primary care and specialty practices across the hospital, conducting survey research, and running quality improvement activities.  Felisha holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Assumption College and a Masters of Public Health degree from The University of New England.

Sarah Hewitt, MPP
Ms. Hewitt is a Clinical Research Coordinator with the HDSC. She manages the Breast Cancer Initiative, a multisite project to diseminate shared decision making tools to breast cancer patients. Sarah contributes to the implementation of decision aids across primary and specialty care at MGH and assists with decision quality projects. Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health and a Masters in Public Policy with a concentration in healthcare from Simmons College. 

Mahima Mangla, MPH
Ms. Mangla is a Clinical Research Coordinator with the HDSC. She manages an orthopedics study which seeks to understand the decision-making process for patients considering elective surgical treatment for several orthopedic conditions.  She also works on other HDSC projects pertaining to decision quality and integrating shared-decision making into routine primary and specialty care. Mahima has a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Art History from New York University and a Masters of Public Health with a focus on health policy and management from Boston University School of Public Health.

Emily Wendell, BA
Ms. Wendell is a Clinical Research Coordinator with the HDSC and the Stoeckle Center for Primary Care Innovation. Her primary role is to recruit patients and analyze data for an orthopedics study sponsored by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation which aims to assess the decision-making process for patients considering surgery to treat various orthopedic conditions. She also works with the Stoeckle Center on a variety of products focused on patient engagement in Primary Care, as well as assists with the MGH Literature and Medicine Program. Emily joins MGH from a role in health communications and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Biology from Williams College. 

Sharon Floramo
Following 15 years of service as an administrative assistant at MGH, Ms. Floramo has joined the Health Decision Sciences Center as part of a dual role in the General Medicine Division. She plays an integral role in the distribution of decision aids.