Dr. Jim Ruderman, chief, department of family and community medicine at WCH, with Dr. Onil Bhattacharyya, Frigon Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research.
Family medicine is the foundation of the healthcare system:
for most patients, it’s their key access point for care, and their relationship with their family physician is one of the most important links affecting their health. It is also a focal point where health system solutions can be most effective.
That’s why Women’s College Hospital’s (WCH) first endowed chair in family medicine research focuses on quality and innovation in this crucial area.
The Frigon Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research was established as a partnership between the Family Practice Health Centre at WCH and the University of Toronto (U of T) department of family and community health.
The chair was made possible by a generous endowment from Louise Fast, a longtime donor and supporter of the WCH Family Practice Health Centre. It is named for two family physicians: Fast’s grandfather Dr. Rosaire Frigon, who completed his medical degree in 1902 and practised medicine in Quebec for over 50 years; and Fast’s own family physician Dr. Nadia Blau, who joined WCH family practice in 1968 and practised here for more than 40 years, retiring in 2010.
The inaugural chairholder is Dr. Onil Bhattacharyya. A highly respected clinician scientist, Dr. Bhattacharyya is an associate professor in the faculty of medicine at U of T. He holds a degree in family medicine from the University of Montreal and a PhD in health services research from U of T. As a post-doctoral fellow studying social enterprise at the Harvard School of Public Health, he won first prize in the Harvard Business School business plan competition. He is recognized for his research in health service innovation, chronic disease and service integration, and guideline development.
“The chair is meant to focus on quality, innovation, evidence-based practice, and the ability to bring those practices to everyone,” says Dr. Jim Ruderman, chief, department of family and community medicine at WCH. “I’m especially pleased that we were able to get Dr. Bhattacharyya, because these are all areas that he’s already known for, and this chair will enable him to do much more work in these areas.”
Dr. Bhattacharyya is acutely aware of the healthcare challenges looming on the horizon, with the population aging and an increasing number of people living with chronic conditions.
“As a clinician scientist, I focus on this problem by studying new models of care and better defining quality of care through clinical practice guidelines,” Dr. Bhattacharyya says. “As Frigon Blau Chair, my program of research will explore these themes using three approaches: co-leading an incubator which selects, helps implement and evaluate new models of healthcare in Ontario, studying innovative models from low- and middle-income countries, and developing tools to help produce guidelines that are more likely to improve health and the patient experience while lowering healthcare costs.”
The endowed chair enables WCH to broaden its commitment to health system solutions and complex chronic conditions at the primary care level. It contributes to academic excellence at WCH, and will help build family medicine research at the hospital.
“When you create that focus, that critical mass of research, then it starts growing much more easily because people want to come here, they want to be part of it, they want to work with you,” says Dr. Ruderman of the academic growth in family medicine at WCH. “It becomes a virtuous circle where things spin themselves in a positive way.”
The Frigon Blau Chair in Family Medicine Research is one more avenue through which WCH is pursuing new approaches to some of the most pressing issues in healthcare. It’s this approach that is attracting some of today’s most ground-breaking researchers to WCH.
“Women’s College Hospital’s focus on the future of medicine is very inspiring and aligns closely with my own interests,” says Dr. Bhattacharyya. “I welcome the opportunity to share this vision.”