New Director of Harvard Medical School

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Harvard Medical School Professor of Medicine Russell S. Phillips has been appointed inaugural Director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care by Jeffrey S. Flier, dean of the faculty of medicine. Andrew L. Ellner, instructor in medicine, will assume the position of co-director. Both Phillips and Ellner, along with Professor of Medicine David Bates, co-led the Center on an interim basis. Bates will continue to work with the Center closely as an advisor.

“As the national crisis in primary care looms, the need is as great as ever for leaders who will guide innovative solutions,” said Flier. “Drs. Phillips and Ellner clearly possess the leadership, expertise and passion essential for effecting transformative, global impact in primary care.”

Both Phillips and Ellner, along with Bates, played central roles in the Center’s creation, leading it from inception to its current state where it has already implemented a number of programs. As one notable example, earlier this month the Center launched the Academic Innovations Collaborative, a $10 million dollar initiative that will rapidly transform a majority of Harvard-affiliated primary care teaching practices to benefit upwards of 275,000 patients while creating a dynamic platform for training future health care leaders and improving value in health care.

Phillips has already earned a national reputation as a thought-leader in primary care. Currently, he is a professor of medicine at HMS and chief of the Division of General Medicine and Primary Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where he co-leads a task force to improve transitions in care and to reduce readmissions, and is leading efforts to recommend strategies for effective care management for high-risk patients.

He also leads efforts to develop a patient-centered medical home within the hospital environment and has championed palliative care services in primary care, wellness programs and innovations to improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness. A graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University School of Medicine, he has leadership roles in the Society of General Internal Medicine, serving on their council, and is currently president of the Association of Chiefs and Leaders in General Internal Medicine.

With more than 200 publications, his research has spanned disparities in care, screening for infection in office practice, patient safety, end of life care, and interventions to improve care for patients with chronic disease.

A graduate of both Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, Ellner is an associate physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the assistant medical director of the Phyllis Jen Center for Primary Care. He also directs the Program in Global Primary Care and Social Change at HMS. As a champion for global health, Ellner’s passion for improving health systems for the most vulnerable populations around the world has led him to serve as the Clinical Policy Director of the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative’s Rural Initiative and to manage the Academic Consortium of the World Health Organization’s Maximizing Positive Synergies initiative. Within the Center for Primary Care, Ellner co-leads the Innovation Fellows Program, which is creating a community of leading primary care systems innovators at HMS.

“We both feel extraordinarily privileged to have the opportunity to lead Harvard Medical School's efforts to transform primary care education, and to work with primary care practices across Harvard to lead innovation in care,” said Phillips. “I look forward to working with all my colleagues and partners in fulfilling many of the Center’s goals, such as making primary care careers more desirable, and improving education so that primary care doctors are prepared to practice effectively in teams, to take responsibility for population health, to coordinate the care of patients with complex needs, and to engage and empower our patients.”

“The Center represents how academic health centers can get more involved in helping to solve our national health care crisis,” said Ellner. “This is an exciting opportunity to help build the models of health care delivery and training that we desperately need for sustainable excellence in health care in the 21st century.”

The Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care was launched in the fall of 2010 with a $30 million anonymous gift. The Center draws together HMS students, basic science and clinical faculty, and leading thinkers from disciplines such as business, engineering, economics and psychology in order to innovate solutions to the current primary care crisis.

http://primarycare.hms.harvard.edu