Richard M.J. Bohmer

Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Richard Bohmer, MBChB, MPH, is a New Zealand trained physician on the faculty of Harvard Business School.  He graduated from the Auckland University School of Medicine and has practiced hospital and primary medicine in New Zealand and England.  In 1989 he was part of a clinical team that established and ran a surgical hospital in Sudan.  He attended the Harvard School of Public Health on a Fulbright Scholarship, graduating in 1993 with a Masters of Public Health in Health Care Management, and joined the HBS faculty in 1997.

At the Harvard Business School he teaches an MBA course on health care operations management, co-directs the MD-MBA program and is the faculty chair for two executive programs in health care delivery.  He teaches and consults on health management issues in numerous locations around the world.  Before joining the HBS faculty, Dr. Bohmer was the Clinical Director of Quality Improvement at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was responsible for planning and implementing the institution's clinical quality improvement program.

Dr. Bohmer's research focus is on the intersection between medical care and management practice and concentrates on understanding how best to design and manage the process of patient care in order to improve clinical outcomes.  He has published in both the management and medical literatures on learning, technology adoption and operations strategy in health care, and on quality improvement and patient safety, and is the author of Designing Care: Aligning the Nature and Management of Health Care (HBS Press, 2009).

  1. Designing Care: Aligning the Nature and Management of Health Care

    Today's health-care providers face growing criticism - from policy makers and patients alike. As costs continue to spiral upward and concerns about quality of care escalate, the debate has focused on how to finance health care. Yet funding solutions can't address the underlying questions: Why have costs risen in the first place? And how can we improve the quality and affordability of care?

    In Designing Care, Harvard Business School professor Richard Bohmer argues that these fundamental questions must be answered. A medical doctor himself, Bohmer explains that health-care professionals are tasked with providing two very different types of care - sequential and iterative. With sequential care, a patient can be quickly diagnosed and given predictable, reliable, and low-cost care. But in the case of iterative care, a patient's condition is unknown, and tremendous resources may be required for diagnosis and treatment, often with uncertain outcomes. Bohmer shows that to reduce costs and manage care effectively, sequential and iterative care situations require different management systems. Through stories and cases drawn from years in the field, he reveals how health-care providers can successfully manage both modes. To do so, they must reevaluate traditional roles and embrace continuous learning across the organization. The benefits of this operational redesign? The predictable, responsive, and lower-cost care today's health-care leaders - and patients - seek.