Timothy G. Ferris, MD, MPH, the new CEO of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization, says the intelligence, dedication and compassion of colleagues continue to make him a better person.

As a Harvard Medical School student, Timothy G. Ferris, MD, MPH, was initially intimidated by Massachusetts General Hospital.

“I was immediately considered part of the team, which was a terrific introduction to the institution.”

“It seemed scary, big and imposing,” says Dr. Ferris, who grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. “But once I arrived here, I was really struck by how much people embraced me as a medical student,” he recalls. “I was immediately considered part of the team, which was a terrific introduction to the institution.”

Home Visits and Relationships

Dr. Ferris is a practicing internist whose primary clinical interests are caring for medically complex elderly patients and counseling patients around issues of prevention and managing chronic illness. He makes visits to homebound elderly patients.

“The home visit isn’t just about clinical care that’s more convenient for the patient,” he says. “It’s also about the deepening of the patient/doctor relationship.”

Most of Dr. Ferris’ work week, however, involves nonclinical activities. He became CEO of the Massachusetts General Physicians Organization in August 2017. The MGPO represents Mass General physicians to regulators and payers, distributes funds to physicians and oversees hospital-wide and departmental policies and procedures.

Dr. Ferris also has more than 100 publications. In addition, he has influenced health policy, including serving on the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services’ independent advisory council on physician payment policy.

“I view my work at the state and federal levels as helping policymakers understand the implications of what they do and correct problems that past policy decisions have created,” he says.

“The people I work with — physicians, nurses, administrators — are really smart, dedicated and compassionate.”

Uplifted by Colleagues

Dr. Ferris and his wife Cynthia have three daughters. He says Cynthia played a key role in his early career in health policy research. He enjoys telling one example of how.

“Cynthia was an English teacher and would help me with my papers,” he says. “I remember reading one paper aloud to her on a long car ride. She said it was good, but the second-to-last sentence didn’t make any sense. I said that was ridiculous and submitted the paper unchanged.

“The editor accepted the manuscript without any revisions except for one: I had to change the second-to-last sentence because it didn’t make any sense.”

Twenty-five years after arriving at Mass General, Dr. Ferris is happy right where he is.

“The people I work with — physicians, nurses, administrators — are really smart, dedicated and compassionate,” he says. “Being surrounded by people with these characteristics makes me a better person. That’s why I’ve hung out here for so long.”