I had no idea how one student's question would change the trajectory of my career and life.

It was 1998 and I was teaching a health policy class at the University of New Hampshire. One of my students asked what I thought the future of healthcare would be. “The future,” I replied, “will be about quantifiable results, transparency and outcomes. Evidence will be required across the board.”

At our next class the student brought me a flyer for a three-day seminar at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, NH. Had I heard of Dr. Jack Wennberg and the Dartmouth Atlas? Yes, I had heard of Dr. Wennberg. In fact, I'd had his research in mind when predicting the future of healthcare.

Driven by my curiosity to learn more, I decided to attend the seminar.  

What I learned during those three days was nothing short of a revelation. I learned about research that concluded, where a patient lives in the United States determines the amount of medical care he or she receives. I learned about the lack of evidence in medicine and the emerging field of outcomes research. I learned about how a patient's informed decision based on information and evidence resulted in better outcomes. I was hooked.

I went home and, with the love and support of my long-suffering family, returned to graduate school at Dartmouth to earn my second graduate degree (the first, a Master of Health Administration), a Master of Science with a specialization in evaluating the science of medicine and clinical outcomes. 

My decision to pursue this work turned out to be the most exciting thing I've ever done professionally.

As a founding member of The Massachusetts General Hospital Codman Center for Clinical Effectiveness, I have witnessed first-hand the power of data to improve clinical care, improve resident training, and change physicians' relationships with third-party payers, malpractice carriers and—most astounding of all—each other. (This is something one veteran surgeon told me he “never thought he would live to see.”) Having this work recognized with a Partners in Excellence Award was just icing on the cake.

And the great projects, groups and accomplishments have just kept coming:

And now, with my own firm, I can't wait to share all of my experience, expertise and enthusiasm with you.

Kathy Rowell

Katherine S. Rowell, M.S., M.H.A.