By David Woods ([email protected])

US News and World Report calls him a patient safety guru; Modern Healthcare has repeatedly named him among the top 100 most powerful people in American healthcare; his curriculum vitae runs to more than 70 pages, of which one whole page is devoted to his multiple honours and awards.

Dr. David Nash is chairman of the Department of Health Policy at Jefferson Medical College, an integral unit of Jefferson Medical College and of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, which was founded in 1825. The Department employs 42 people from an eclectic range of disciplines including pharmacy, public health, medicine, nursing, and administration.

Funding for the Department’s current range of 36 active projects comes from the pharmaceutical industry (40%); government (10%); and the remaining funding comes from a mix of both the private and public sectors. Among those projects are technology assessment; cost effective analyses;, diffusion of technology into medical practice; and policy pieces for differing audiences, including State government.

Specifically, the Department’s research team focuses on health services and outcomes projects in such areas as: clinical care quality measurement for hospital departments; productivity measurement associated with specific disease states; disease management outcomes measurement; senior health issues; and value-based healthcare purchasing for employers.

The Department produces numerous articles and research papers, as well as publishing four journals: American Journal of Medical quality; Disease Management; Biotechnology Healthcare; and Pharmacy and Therapeutics. David Nash serves as editor of all four.

There are several cutting edge policy issues currently attracting the Department’s interest. These include retail, in-store clinics; the US physician shortage, particularly in primary care; the growing issue of compliance with drug regimens; and the specifically US concerns over malpractice litigation, and the roughly 50 million Americans who are uninsured. So far as the issue of retail medicine is concerned, Nash is a strong proponent. What they offer, he says is access, convenience, and price transparency. In fact, he chairs something called the Take Care National Medical Advisory Board, a company in the retail medical business. (HOC will publish an article on these retail clinics in our October issue).

So far as the doctor shortage is concerned, Nash believes that while this is due to the usual suspects – overutilisation of services, an aging population and increasingly sophisticated technology – a more significant cause is what he calls the feminisation of medicine. More than half of the entering class of US medical schools are women … who tend to work fewer hours and have shorter careers.

The Department of Health Policy is appropriately involved in continuing education. It has a cadre of external Fellows and Senior Scholars, puts on a number of conferences each year, and operates ,jointly with Jefferson’s College of Graduate Studies, a Masters program in public health.

Having seen Dr Nash in action over several years, I can say that he also brings to his extraordinarily full professional life a talent for public speaking, and marketing … and for inspiring loyalty and enthusiasm among his staff.