Fisher Interview

An interview with TDI's director, Elliot Fisher, MD, on TDI's most important contributions to date, what makes TDI distinctive, and TDI's current priorities. The interview was conducted in May 2013 by two TDI graduate students, Lisa Jackson and Dyane Tower.


What have been TDI’s most important contributions to health care so far?

First, emphasizing the importance of engaging and empowering patients through the work done by Jack Wennberg and Al Mulley on shared decision- making. Second, utilizing modern scientific methods in the improvement of health care delivery through the work done by Paul Batalden, Gene Nelson, and others. And third, working to align payment and delivery systems with the care that patients want and need.

What TDI project has been your favorite to work on?

The project that was an incredible opportunity to be a part of was our look at the health implications of geographic variations in spending. It took me from being a health services researcher to someone who had to show up in Washington to explain the findings. The findings were relevant to policy in ways that I could never have anticipated and seem to be having a continuing impact on health care today.

What makes TDI different from other public health programs in the nation?

First, we are committed to asking important and difficult questions about health and health care, like can there be too much health care? Second, we have a sharp focus on understanding the failures of and the challenges facing health care delivery systems and what we might do to make them better. We emphasize an epidemiologic way of thinking about care.

As the new director, what is your number one priority for TDI?

To build on our amazing current strengths in research and education and our strong current partnerships with delivery systems here and elsewhere to make Dartmouth the preeminent academic institution addressing problems in health care delivery in the United States.

Is TDI looking to move to campus in the near future?
(Note: TDI is currently located off of Dartmouth's main academic campus in the Centerra Business Park in Lebanon, New Hampshire.)

There is a new building being built on the Dartmouth-Hitchcock campus, which is where the research community of TDI will be based. It will be a great space, and will be next to people doing all sorts of interesting things in bioinformatics and statistics. We are also committed to getting space on campus for the educational programs to increase multidisciplinary teaching. It is really important that students are a part of the broader Dartmouth community of students, and being on campus will help that.


Dr. Fisher follows Drs. Jack Wennberg and Jim Weinstein in leading TDI, originally founded in 1988 by Dr. Wennberg. Learn more about Dr. Fisher’s goals for TDI.

For the full interview, search for Dartmouth's Graduate Forum.

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