Posts made in April, 2011

PAMF Names James Hereford as New Chief Operating Officer

James Hereford has been named the new Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), effective June 20, 2011. PAMF Chief Executive Officer Richard Slavin, M.D., announced the important addition to the executive team.

“Our goal is to provide real value for our patients – the highest quality medical care and service at a more affordable price.  The economics of health care are rapidly changing.  As a large, integrated medical organization PAMF is very well positioned to create innovative care delivery systems and adapt successfully in the continuously evolving healthcare environment.  James is the ideal candidate to direct this effort,” Dr. Slavin said.

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More than $2 Million in Grants Given to PAMF Research Institute

Funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s (PAMF) Research Institute has received more than $2 million in grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 to support several diverse medical research projects and new research positions.

The projects and professionals the grants will fund include:

  • Pan Asian Cohort Study: Identifying Disparities in Type 2 Diabetes Among Asian Americans
  • Mental Health Communication in Elderly Primary Care Visits
  • Prostate Cancer Navigator Project
  • Breathe Easier through Weight Loss Lifestyle Intervention (Be Well)
  • Support for one post-doctoral Fellow for two years, with focus on pulmonary (lung) medicine
  • Support for one summer college student intern for two summers


“These grants provide external validation of the importance of the studies we are conducting. The extra funding will allow us to add critical resources to move forward research on several fronts.” said Hal Luft, Ph.D., director of the PAMF Research Institute. “Our studies not only will help increase knowledge of these important issues, but could also lead to new methods of treatment.”

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New Breast Imaging Center, Encina and Executive Health Practices Open

On Monday, November 1, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation will open the doors to its newest clinic building on its Palo Alto campus. Located at 49 Wells Avenue, behind the clinic buildings at 795 El Camino Real, the 20,000-square-foot center will house the breast imaging center on the second story and two specialized primary care services on the third story. The new center has underground parking reserved for patient use only.

The Breast Imaging Center will be staffed by dedicated mammographers and fellowship-trained breast radiologists, who work closely with a multi-disciplinary team of cancer specialists including breast surgeons, medical oncologists and radiation oncologists.

The center will offer five mammography rooms for both screening and diagnostic mammography, two ultrasound rooms and one stereotactic biopsy room. The newest model of breast MRI will be installed in 2011 when it becomes available from the manufacturer, Philips.

A model of care, the Center’s goal is to reduce the time from finding a breast lump to a definitive course of action to 48 hours, a significant improvement on the agonizing three-to-four weeks that is now typical in some places.

Also housed in the 49 Wells site will be PAMF’s Executive Health and Encina practices.

The Encina Practice, available with a privately paid monthly retainer, offers an internal medicine practice providing evidence-based medicine. It includes additional amenities and services not easily available in traditional medical practices today, such as 24-hour phone and e-mail access to the patient’s physician, personalized doctor’s visits, and comprehensive health care coordination.

PAMF’s Executive Health Program (EHP), which is both a fee-for-service and company-sponsored program, provides high quality health care to executives and other professionals. EHP offers concierge services and specialized care tailored to the unique and busy lifestyle of the corporate executive.

These two practices will occupy adjacent spaces on the third floor of the clinic, and offer eight exam rooms and one treatment room.

PAMF, Stanford Launch Comprehensive Breast Cancer Study

In a unique partnership, the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) will collaborate on a breast cancer study that aims to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients.

The project is the brainchild of Richard Levy, Ph.D., a longtime community philanthropist and business leader, who said he saw an opportunity for the two medical centers to share expertise on a subject that is of great interest to him—improving cancer survival. He and his wife, Susan, will provide a gift of $2.1 million for the three-year study, which will focus on both the medical and psychosocial factors that contribute to cancer treatment and survival.

“From the point of view of patients, what makes for good health is good technology and good environmental factors, such as the doctor/patient relationship, nutrition, exercise and lifestyle factors,” said Levy, a resident of nearby Portola Valley, Calif. “Patients need both. Here we have two world-class institutions in both areas. It’s a natural partnership.”

Although scientists at the two medical centers have worked together over the years on many projects, this is the first time the two institutions have officially partnered with the intent of building a long-term collaborative relationship in research.

Levy is the former president and CEO of Varian Medical Systems in Palo Alto, where he has spent the last 40 years. He has longstanding ties to both Stanford and PAMF. He has served on the board of PAMF for the past 10 years and its parent, Sutter Health, for the last three. A nuclear chemist by training, he and his colleagues at Varian worked closely over the years with Stanford scientists in the Department of Radiation Oncology to pioneer linear accelerators for cancer treatment. Levy retired as CEO in 2006 but remains the company’s chairman of the board. He is also active in initiatives involving philanthropy and health-care reform.

Levy said he hopes the study will not only lead to improvements in cancer care but also point to ways of reducing medical-care costs nationally.

“If PAMF and Stanford can find a way to provide better care at lower cost, that will set an example for other communities,” he said.

In the study, physicians and scientists at both organizations will follow the journey of hundreds of patients throughout the course of their treatment with an eye to understanding the role of cancer biology and different patterns of care in outcomes and quality. The researchers will document every aspect of the patients’ treatment, including all tests, drug infusions, surgeries and radiation treatments, as well as nonmedical support they receive, such as yoga, alternative therapies or group therapy.

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Dr. Paul Tang Joins National Health IT Policy Committee

Committee’s goal is to make policy recommendations relating to the implementation of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure and the adoption of electronic health records.

Paul Tang, M.D., internal medicine physician, vice president and chief medical information officer at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) was named to serve on the federal government’s new Health Information Technology Policy Committee, a committee created as part of the economic stimulus package recently passed by the U.S. Congress. The committee will advise the Health and Human Services secretary and the head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on a policy framework for the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that permits electronic exchange and use of health information.

Dr. Paul Tang

“I am honored to join this talented group tasked with making recommendations to further the adoption and effective use of electronic health records throughout the country,” said Dr. Tang. “In addition to quality and safety benefits for physicians, I am a firm believer that personal health records allow patients to take a more active role in their health and become equal partners in their care with physicians.”

At PAMF, Dr. Tang oversees its EHR and its integrated personal health record system, PAMFOnline. Under Dr. Tang’s leadership, PAMF became an early adopter of an EHR system in 1999. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and was one of the “50 Most Powerful Physician Executives in 2008” named by Modern Physician magazine. Dr. Tang has served on numerous IOM and National Academy of Sciences committees. He chaired two studies that made recommendations on the use of EHR systems to improve patient safety and quality nationwide.

Dr. Tang was one of 13 members of the new committee named by Gene Dodaro, acting comptroller general and head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The economic stimulus act includes $17.2 billion in grants and incentives for physician practices who are “meaningful users” of EHRs to improve care and enhance quality. The Recovery Act required the comptroller to name committee members to represent 10 sectors of the health care industry, including health care providers, consumer groups, labor unions, health plans, researchers and IT vendors. Dr. Tang was selected to represent health care providers.

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