John M. Eisenberg, a.k.a "John of AHRQ"
We could devote the rest of our 50@50 series to John Eisenberg, and still not capture the impact he had on LDI, general internal medicine, the field of health services research, and our nation. A pioneer in medical decisionmaking and quality improvement, Dr. Eisenberg dedicated his career to the use of evidence-based research in health policy and practice. He trained a generation of physician-researchers who called him a mentor and a friend.
Dr. Eisenberg was one of the first Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars at Penn, where he received his MBA from the Wharton School. He was the founding chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine from 1978 to 1991, when he left to become chairman of the department of medicine and physician-in-chief at Georgetown University. In 1997, he was tapped to lead the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and is generally credited with saving the Agency from the budget axe and shepherding its transition to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) that we know today. He held that position until his death on March 10, 2002.
He wrote the book, both figuratively and literally, on Doctors' Decisions and the Cost of Medical Care, and authored more than 275 articles, now-classics such as Cost Containment and Changing Physicians' Practice Behavior: Can the Fox Learn to Guard the Chicken Coop? More than 100 articles described original research about how doctors make decisions and how economic issues affect those decisions.
The list of his positions, achievements, and impact is far too long to recount here. Instead, we remember him in the words of Donna Shalala, former Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services:
We called him John of AHRQ (“Arc”) and he loved it. I knew him as my physician; as a brilliant, insightful colleague; and as everyone’s friend. When John walked into a room it got brighter, more humane, and more fun. He made you laugh. He made you feel better—he made you do better—without a diagnosis or prescription. He was more comfortable in his own skin than anyone I know. He was secure and sunny. An optimistic, positive man—a human being of such warmth, talent, and goodness that we will feel his loss all of our lives.
More loving tributes are here.