For more than 10 years, our Boston conference rooms had boring names: Video Conference Room and Large Conference Room. In Boise, Healthwise conference rooms have more creative and meaningful names, like Mt. Borah, Payette, and Obsidian—all mountains, rivers, or minerals.
So last month, the Boston office followed suit and renamed its conference rooms in honor of Al Mulley and Jack Wennberg, cofounders of the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation.
Al Mulley practiced medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) for most of his career and was the founding Chief of the General Medicine Division at MGH. Along with his colleagues, Al established the MGH Medical Practices Evaluation Center, which he then directed, to better understand and improve intensive care. He is the founding editor of the most widely used textbook of outpatient medicine, Primary Care Medicine, now in its seventh edition. Al is the founding Director of the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science and a Professor of Medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine. Al has a truly global vision of health care improvement. Among his prominent international roles, he is the first International Visiting Fellow of the King’s Fund in London and is an International Consultant to the Chinese Hospital Association. He is also a member of the prestigious Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Jack Wennberg has spent his career at Dartmouth where he is Founder and Director Emeritus of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. He is also the Peggy Y. Thomson Professor Emeritus in the Evaluative Clinical Sciences at the Institute. Jack is a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and has received many of medicine’s most prestigious awards, including the IOM Gustav O. Lienhard Award, the Association for Health Services Research Distinguished Investigator Award, and the Baxter Foundation Health Services Research Prize. Jack has spent his career studying small-area-variations in health care, initially in New England and now globally. The journey to measure, interpret, and address variations in health care is wonderfully described in Jack’s book, Tracking Medicine. To honor Jack’s lifetime of contributions, the John E. Wennberg Distinguished Professorship was established at Dartmouth in 2013. Jack also serves on the Healthwise Board of Directors.
Together, Jack and Al wrestled with how to find the “right rate” of medical care, preserving wanted variation attributable to patients’ clinical conditions and preferences while reducing unwanted variation due to clinicians’ preferences. They concluded that the answer would be found in ensuring that patients are fully informed about and involved in their medical decisions. This melding of minds produced the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation in 1989. And for 26 years we’ve had truly big shoes to fill in carrying forward their ideals!
With Al’s and Jack’s portraits in our conference rooms, we are inspired by their “presence” in our daily work.