Don Berwick, M.D.

Former Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services | Founding CEO, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
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Modern Healthcare and American College of Healthcare Executives Health Care Hall of Fame 2022

Don Berwick is the United States' leading advocate for high-quality healthcare, and one of the top thinkers in healthcare today. He sees tremendous unrealized potential in American medicine. Despite our outstanding knowledge base, expert practitioners, and world-class equipment, our healthcare system can do better in providing safe, high-quality care at reasonable costs. The perfect blend of content and inspiration, Dr. Berwick helps everyone pursue better, more affordable care. In his talks, he addresses the sources of excellence and of defect in health care settings today, explains which approaches are not effective, and provides real insight on where improvement can be attained.

Don can also speak to the many new forces that are impacting healthcare. Disruptive changes—such as telehealth, new workforce roles, thoroughly empowered patients, artificial intelligence, machine learning, new sites of care, and mindfulness practice—are impacting legacy models of care. Dr. Berwick shares how smart health care systems will need to adjust to survive. He also explores how addressing social determinants of health, long discussed but infrequently done, may now be arriving at last as a new way to invest. He explains the threats and opportunities that this trend will bring to traditional health care settings.

Don is President Emeritus and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). From July 2010, to December 2011, Dr. Berwick served as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. For 22 years prior to that, he was the founding CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a nonprofit dedicated to improving healthcare around the world. A pediatrician by background, he has also served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Berwick is on the Board of Advisors for Google DeepMind Health and on the Board of Directors for Lumira Dx, Virta Health and COTA, Inc.

Dr. Berwick is a member of the Scientific Steering Committee and Advisory Board for the COVID-19 Research Database, a secure repository of HIPAA-compliant, de-identified and limited patient-level data sets made available to public health and policy researchers to extract insights to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2005, he was appointed Honourary Knight Commander of the British Empire by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, in recognition of his work with the British National Health Service. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Ernest A. Codman Award, the American Hospital Association's Award of Honor, the Heinz award for Public Policy, and the Institute of Medicine's Gustav O. Lienhard Award. He has been named as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) and a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practice. His over 160 articles have appeared in professional journals on such topics as healthcare policy and healthcare quality management. His books include Promising Healthcare: How We Can Rescue Health Care by Improving It, Curing Health Care, and New Rules: Regulation, Markets and the Quality of American Health Care. In 2023, Dr. Berwick launched Turn on the Lights, an Institute for Healthcare Improvement podcast featuring candid conversations with healthcare workers, patients, innovators, activists, and researchers that explore how the American healthcare system is working and not working.

A powerful motivator, Don encourages institutions and individuals to do their work better.


The Triple Aim: Radical Redesign for Far Better Results

This lecture explores the background and evidence behind the need for the “Triple Aim” in health care: better care for individuals, better health for populations, and lower per capita costs. It explains why those results are way out of reach for health care as currently designed and operated, and what are the dire consequences of failing to change. It develops the needed principles for redesign, and presents example of success from around the world for each of those principles.

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Seeking Era Three: Finding Our Balance in Troubled Times

Levels of burnout among physicians and nurses may be at an all-time high in the US and in many other nations. This lecture explores the reasons for burnout and conflict in the health care system. It traces the roots to two co-existing and unsatisfactory foundational cultures: the culture of professional dominance (“Era One”) and the culture of measurement and accountability (“Era Two”). It explains the deep flaws in both those world views, and recommends a new and more effective approach to the “Triple Aim” (better care for individuals, better health for populations, and lower per capita costs) – “Era Three.” It describes detailed components of Era Three, and implications for the behaviors, training, and self-image of physicians, nurses, other health professionals, leaders, and patients and families.

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Changing the Balance of Power: “You Cannot Give What You Do Not Have”

This talk explores the need for major redesign of health care delivery – long overdue. Drawing on the so-called “Radical Redesign Principles” for a new health care system from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Leadership Alliance, Dr. Berwick will explain especially the first of those principles: “Change the Balance of Power,” with specific illustrations of how patients, families, and communities can take over their own care and better pursue their own health. This gives new and fresher meaning to the much-used phrase, “patient-centered care,” and offers doctors, nurses, and other health professionals a new and positive image of themselves as healers, “co-producing care” with those they serve. It also offers a glimpse of some of the truly disruptive care delivery system innovations now well on their way.

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Start Here: Getting Real About Social Determinants of Health | IHI
Don Berwick, M.D.
Harvard Medical School Commencement Address 2012
Don Berwick, M.D.


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10 Ways To Drive Change In Healthcare
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Obama CMS Chief: Medicare Advantage Plans Game the System
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Salve Lucrum: The Existential Threat of Greed in US Health Care
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Breaking the rules for better patient care'
Fixing Healthcare
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Getting Serious About Producing Health
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Honoring extraordinary contributions
Modern Healthcare



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Global Health
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