Chair acknowledges leadership in advancing healthcare transparency
BOSTON – OpenNotes is pleased to announce the appointment of Co-Founder Tom Delbanco, MD, as the inaugural incumbent of the John F. Keane & Family Professorship in Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). This achievement is the culmination of decades of Delbanco’s pioneering work in patient engagement and health care transparency and is made possible through the partnership, generosity, and vision of John Keane and his family.
Mr. Keane has been a member of the BIDMC community for decades, serving as a trustee of the New England Deaconess Hospital and more recently as an overseer at BIDMC. He met Dr. Delbanco several years ago at a Red Sox game where the two spoke of a mutual wish to break down barriers to care and the belief that primary care was the right place to start. Dr. Delbanco shared a long simmering idea. As a way to engage patients more actively in their care, he wanted to study the idea of sharing visit notes with patients using electronic patient portals. Mr. Keane, who began his career in the early days of computer technology, was intrigued, and as a Harvard College and Harvard Business School alumnus, was interested in finding a home for this work at Harvard Medical School.
“John Keane and his family have a long history of giving back to the community. It’s an honor to be named to this chair. It means a great deal to me and my family, and it means a great deal to OpenNotes,” said Delbanco. “I have no doubt this professorship will bring a new level of national recognition to the work at hand.”
Educated at Harvard College and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Delbanco trained in internal medicine at Bellevue, Harlem, and Presbyterian Hospitals in New York. In 1971, he returned to Boston to join Beth Israel Hospital, where he created one of the first hospital-based, team-oriented primary care programs in the country.
“He built on his vision of creating a one-class system of primary care that would serve rich and poor alike with teams of doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals,” said Mark Zeidel, MD, Chief of Medicine, BIDMC. “Today there is virtually no major hospital in the country that doesn’t house a primary care program.”
Dr. Delbanco was also the major creative force behind the Picker Institute, which developed surveys to solicit patient feedback on their experiences. He has explored the complex issue of medical errors through the eyes of patients and was actively involved with developing the nation’s first online patient portal, BIDMC’s PatientSite. Much of that work was done in concert with OpenNotes Co-Founder, Jan Walker, RN, MBA. Under their leadership, OpenNotes has grown in just over 5 years from a 20,000 patient pilot to a national movement involving more than 20 million patients.
For the past 17 years Dr. Delbanco was the Richard and Florence Koplow–James Tullis Professor of General Medicine and Primary Care, serving as the inaugural incumbent of the first Harvard chair dedicated to primary care.
“If there is one unifying theme between the mission of the two professorships that bookend Tom’s career, it is probably breaking down the walls between those who care for people and those who get care, along with a fervent commitment to upholding the dignity, involvement, and perceptions of all patients,” said Kevin Tabb, MD, President, BIDMC.
“Mr. Keane and BIDMC are ensuring that HMS, Dr. Delbanco and all future incumbents of this professorship continue to empower patients to participate in a transparent approach to health care, thereby improving communication between patients and health professionals, which will ultimately improve health outcomes,” said HMS Dean George Q. Daley, MD.