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John Hobbs

2001-02 Harkness Fellow Manager in the Sector Policy Directorate New Zealand Ministry of Health

Harkness Project Title:Enhancing Patient and Physician Email Contact: Survey Results

Mentor: David Bates, M.D.

Placement: Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Biography at time of Harkness Fellowship: John Hobbs, a 2001–02 Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy, is a manager in the Sector Policy Directorate of the New Zealand Ministry of Health (MOH). Most recently he was responsible for managing a team that developed policy to implement the Labour Government’s 2000 health reform package.  In his 10-year tenure at the Ministry of Health Hobbs has held numerous management, advisory, and analyst positions. He has also served as an analyst in the Treasury and as an investigating officer for the Department of Labor. Hobbs’ policy expertise lies in the application of economic concepts and frameworks to address policy problems, use of financial analysis to develop policy initiatives and business plans for publicly owned commercial entities, and knowledge of economy-wide linkages and realities in the development of public policy.

Project: Hobbs’ project aimed to evaluate the extent to which e-mail is used between physicians and patients in the Partners HealthCare System, and to identify interventions that might promote increased use of this form of communication.  A survey was administered to nearly 100 primary care physicians in ten different practices, as part of a broader evaluation of an information technology platform being put in place.  The survey explored physicians’ use of email with patients, and the challenges and opportunities they perceive as it becomes more common.

Career Activity Since Fellowship

  • Senior Health Advisor to The Hon. Tony Ryall, Minister of Health, New Zealand Ministry of Health, 2008
  • Manager, Effective Interventions, Mental Health Directorate, New Zealand Ministry of Health, 2006
  • Manager, Strategic Policy on Ethics and Innovation, Sector Policy Directorate, New Zealand Ministry of Health, 2002

Current Position: Chief Advisor, Office of the Chief Executive, New Zealand Ministry of Justice (Updated June 2013)

E-Mail: [email protected]

Harkness-Related Publications

Hobbs J, Kittler AF, Fox S, Middleton B, Bates DW.  “Communicating Health Information to an Alarmed Public Facing a Threat Such as a Bioterrorist Attack,” Journal of Health Communication 2004; 9(1):67–75.

Kittler AF, Wald JS, Volk LA, Pizziferri L, Jagannath Y, Harris C, Lippincott M, Yu T, Hobbs J, Bates DW.  “The Role of Primary Care Non-physician Clinic Staff in E-mail Communication with Patients,” International Journal of Medical Informatics 2004; 73:333-340.

 Kittler AF, Hobbs J, Volk LA, Kreps G, Bates DW. “The Internet as a Vehicle to Communicate Health Information during a Public Health Emergency: A Survey Analysis Involving the Anthrax Scare of 2001,” Journal of Medical Internet Research 2004; 6(1):e8.

Hobbs J, Wald J, Jagannath Y, Kittler AF, Pizziferri L, Volk LA, Middleton B, Bates DW.  “Opportunities to Enhance Patient and Physician E-mail Contact,”  International Journal of Medical Informatics 2003; 70(1):1-9.

Pizziferri L, Kittler AF, Volk LA, Hobbs J, Jagannath Y, Wald JS, Middleton B, Bates DW.  “Physicians' Perceptions toward Electronic Communication with Patients.”  Abstract presented at the American Medical Informatics Association 2003 Annual Symposium, November 2003.