Dale Collins, Leader in Health-Care Transparency and Shared Decision-Making, Named to Head Center for Informed Choice at TheDartmouth Institute


October 9, 2008

Dr. E. Dale Collins, a national leader in implementing a shared decision making process and comprehensive coordinated care into patient treatment, has been named the Director of the Center for Informed Choice at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI).

Dr. CollinsFor the past nine years, Collins has headed the Comprehensive Breast Program at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Under her direction, the care of patients with breast cancer moved from a fragmented system to an interdisciplinary clinic with a single point of contact for patients. Use of computerized screening tools and patient decision-making aids within the program have resulted in greater patient satisfaction and a marked improvement in patients' ability to make an informed choice about treatment options.

The Comprehensive Breast Program also provided the model for DHMC's quality reporting website, recognized as one of the most comprehensive in the nation. Since 2004, the website has allowed patients to view clinical outcomes at DHMC, as well as patient satisfaction scores.

Dr. Collins received her introduction to the concepts of shared decision-making and outcomes reporting while a student in the MS program at TDI (formerly the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences.) She went on to collaborate with DHMC's first-in-the-nation Center for Shared Decision-Making to bring the principles of informed choice to patients diagnosed with breast cancer.

Said Collins: "The ground breaking work of Dr. Jack Wennberg in describing unexplained variations in medical care brought me to Dartmouth in 1995. The master's program he created in Outcomes Research at TDI was my introduction to the world of health services research. I am now honored and excited to be joining the Dartmouth Institute (TDI) team as the Director of the Center for Informed Choice. It is particularly gratifying to be joining the Institute that Jack Wennberg started and that Jim Weinstein now leads. Both are visionary leaders who have helped shape health care as we know it today. I look forward to bringing a clinical perspective and developing new strategies to help patients make informed choices about their options."

Jack Fowler is the President of the Foundation for Informed Decision Making, a partner with TDI and DHMC in advancing the concept of informed choice. Fowler was enthusiastic on learning Dr. Collins had been named to head the center at TDI: "I think this is a great choice. Whenever we are asked whether or not shared decision making can actually be a reality, I cite Dale's comprehensive breast program as the best example in the world of how patients can be routinely informed and involved in decisions about their medical care. She truly is a trail blazer."

The appointment was announced by Dr. James N. Weinstein, Director of TDI, who said: "I am so pleased that Dale has accepted this position. She brings not only a commitment to the ideals of informed choice, but the experience and certainty that comes from having seen its impact on clinical practice. Her body of research , respect among her peers, and administrative and clinical expertise make her an ideal person to lead the Center for Informed Choice."

Dr. Collins began her new position October 1st. In coming months, working with co-director Hilary Llewellyn-Thomas and colleagues, she plans to implement a number of strategies that provide models for "knitting together" research and clinical practice in informed choice. One such initiative may be the integration of informed choice into the "medical home" concept now being developed around the country. She will also focus on building strategic alliances with other health systems to further implement the principles and practice of informed choice across the country.

Dr. E. Dale Collins received her MD from Emory University School of Medicine in 1989 and her MS from Dartmouth Medical School in 1998. She is a plastic surgeon, specializing in breast reconstruction. She is also a Professor of Surgery and of Community and Family Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. She lives in Hanover, NH.

The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice is a dynamic force within Dartmouth College, dedicated to improving health care through education, research, policy reform, leadership improvement, and communication with patients and the public.