Dr. Robert Phillips’ interest in family medicine began in his native rural Missouri town, but flourished under the supervision of the UF College of Medicine’s rural medicine faculty.“I fell in love with the relationship that physicians have with patients and their ability to change people’s health and behaviors over time,” said Phillips, a 1995 UF College of Medicine graduate. “There is not enough research in that area, which convinced me I could do the research and the policy from a family medicine perspective. I could make a bigger difference than I could in other areas.”
Phillips, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, recently agreed to apply his knowledge and passion for primary care medicine to assist the UF College of Medicine’s H. James Free, MD, Center for Primary Care Education and Innovation as a member of its advisory board. According to Robert Hatch, MD, director of UF’s Free Center, Phillips’ expertise will be extremely valuable.
“He was in a league of his own as a medical student, and continues to be,” said Hatch, a professor in the department of community health and family medicine. “He’s sure to do great things.”
After his residency in family medicine at the University of Missouri, Phillips became the assistant director, then director of the Robert Graham Center in Washington, D.C. The Graham Center is a health policy and health services research center and the only research facility of its kind. While with the Graham Center, Phillips built a web-based mapping platform that uses patient data from every community health center in the country to identify holes in the “safety net” as well as where community health center services are most needed.
“I fell in love with the relationship that physicians have with patients and their ability to change people’s health and behaviors over time.”
— Robert Phillips, MD ’95
In 2012, Phillips became the vice president for research and policy at the American Board of Family Medicine, where he leads research and is responsible for providing evidence to inform policy decisions.
He said he is looking to help physicians improve quality and care for their communities. One way to help improve care, he said, is to extract data from electronic health records, which were “built for billing, not for caring for people.”
“We’re trying to help family physicians use patient and community data to understand the context of where patients come from and to empower them to be better collaborators on issues that affect their health,” Phillips said.