By Mike Weiler
David Keller, MD, knew he wanted to go into pediatrics because the work made him incredibly happy – so happy that he would whistle on his way to work.
“I went to medical school because I wanted to work with underserved people,” Keller says. “When I got to my pediatric rotations (at Boston Children’s Hospital), I was walking into work one day and I was whistling. My work was always interesting, but this made me happy. That’s why I went into pediatrics.”
Keller joined the faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine as a Visiting Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Clinical Transformation of the Department of Pediatrics on October 1, 2013. This was a new position that was created to lead the Department of Pediatrics and Children’s Hospital Colorado in coordinating and improving clinical operations, along with clinical care quality improvement, patient safety and process improvement.
The primary responsibilities of Keller’s position include leadership in development, implementation and promotion of Departmental programs at Children’s Colorado. These responsibilities are designed to deliver patient care that is efficient, safe, personal, coordinated and of the highest quality and value, and to transform clinical practice to meet the changes in health care delivery and financing.
As Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs and Clinical Transformation, Keller knows he has a lot of work to do, but he’s excited to be working with a “tremendous group of faculty.”
“There’s an incredibly high caliber of faculty and a real commitment from the institutions to providing the right care to the right child at the right time. Back East, Children’s Hospital Colorado is an icon, and the Denver Health system is legendary for those in community health world,” Keller says. “The opportunities for collaboration abound; it’s a great place, it was a great opportunity, and it seems like a great fit. It gives me a chance to think about how children’s services can be integrated into a rapidly changing health care system, and I know the Department and Children’s Colorado will be at the cutting edge of that transformation.”
Keller has extensive experience in addressing the social determinants of health, child advocacy and mental health integration at the practice and the population levels. He has published and presented his work at national and international meetings, as well as in peer-reviewed journals and monographs.
Keller says part of his challenge will be to help create systems where physicians are rewarded for doing better work rather than doing more work.
“The Department and Children’s Colorado have done great work on ways to measure safety, but how do we prove the value of what we do? We have to be able to measure high quality care. The challenge for us in pediatrics is we don’t have great ways to do that,” Keller says. “There’s lots of work to do, and lots of work going on here that’s really exciting.
Keller mentioned Children’s Colorado and the Department of Pediatrics have already implemented programs that showcase the value of the work being done. It started with Target Zero campaign, a program at Children’s Colorado aimed at eliminating preventable harm and improving patient safety. Building on that infrastructure, Children’s and the Department are looking at ways to address population health as well as the health of individual children.
“I’m walking into a work in progress. The good news is I come at it from having done it at several other places, but I know it’s going to be different here,” Keller says. “It’s going to be important work, and it’s going to benefit children.”
Prior to coming to the Department of Pediatrics, Keller was Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Senior Policy Analyst of Commonwealth Medicine’s Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UMass Medical School and Associate Medical Director for the Office of Clinical Affairs at MassHealth, the Massachusetts Medicaid Agency.
For more on Keller, see his profile on CUDoctors.com.