Harvard Medical School opens center for primary care, appoints director

By Liz Kowalczyk, Globe Staff

Using a $30 million anonymous gift, Harvard Medical School has opened a center to redesign primary care and make the field more attractive to new doctors. As one of its first projects, the center is creating a new training program for residents.

The medical school said Wednesday that it has hired Dr. Russell S. Phillips, a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, as director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Primary Care. Dr. Andrew L. Ellner was hired as co-director.

Phillips, 59, is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School 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 reduce readmissions. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University School of Medicine.

Ellner, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, is an associate physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Womens Hospital and the assistant medical director of the Phyllis Jen Center for Primary Care.

Phillips said in an interview last week that the center has started an Academic Innovations Collaborative that will provide more than $10 million in funding over two years to nine primary care teaching practices at six Harvard teaching hospitals, and to eight affiliated community health centers.

The money will help the hospitals redesign their curriculum so that residents train as part of small primary care teams, rather than see patients in a clinic one afternoon a week, largely on their own. This change is part of the strategy to make the fields of internal medicine, family practice, and pediatrics more attractive to new doctors.

Residents dont want to do primary care because its so solitary, Phillips said.

He said that most practices also plan to hire nurse care managers to help residents coordinate care for the most complex patients. Caring for these patients by themselves often feels overwhelming, and getting help from experienced nurses will make caring for these patients more manageable for residents, and also result in better outcomes for our patients, Phillips said.

The new training program will go into effect at the start of the 2013-2014 academic year.


Harvard Medical School opens center for primary care, appoints director

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