Dr. Walls is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Brigham Health (BH) and the Neskey Family Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. BH is an academic medical center system affiliated with Harvard Medical School, comprising Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, two multi-specialty ambulatory care centers and more than 160 ambulatory physician practices. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is a founding member of Mass General Brigham (Partners HealthCare, Inc.), the largest integrated health care system and largest employer in Massachusetts. BH has more than 20,000 employees and an annual operating budget of over $4 billion, including more than $600 million in research funding.
As Executive Vice President and Chief Operating officer, Dr. Walls is responsible for BH’s day-to-day operations and, along with BH President Betsy Nabel, MD, guides both short and long-term strategy to position the system for success well into the future. Dr. Walls led a broad series of initiatives to improve operational performance, quality, safety, and patient experience. After implementing Epic across the system in 2015, Dr. Walls led the formation of the Active Asset Management program, which has dramatically improved system performance and earnings, driving up Net Patient Services Revenue and improving annual margin performance by 50% over a three year period. Dr. Walls’s sound leadership qualities—composure, consistency, foresight, inclusivity and strategic and operational expertise—continue to serve the hospital well as he executes a broader strategic vision across the institution.
An emergency medicine physician by training, Dr. Walls twice served as Chair of academic departments of Emergency Medicine, most recently as Chair of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine for more than two decades before assuming his current role on Jan. 1, 2015. As founding Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Dr. Walls led a series of operational and clinical innovations as the department grew from approximately 38,000 visits with a faculty of fewer than 15 FTEs to more than 100,000 patient visits and 57 faculty members. Under Dr. Walls’ leadership, the department received an extensive renovation and complete redesign of clinical services, opened the first emergency department observation unit in Massachusetts, initiated the first emergency medicine residency training program at Harvard, developed the STRATUS Center for Medical Simulation, and opened a highly successful urgent care center. In 2009, a complete lean process redesign and a modest addition of clinical space reduced patient wait times from more than 60 minutes to less than 15 minutes, while propelling patient satisfaction scores to the 99th percentile nationally. Dr. Walls also served the Brigham and Women’s Physician Organization, with more than 1,500 physicians from all specialties, as Chair of the Finance Committee and Chair of the Board.
Dr. Walls, a noted educator and scholar in emergency medicine with more than 160 scientific publications (including 19 textbooks), has received major awards from all, three emergency medicine national societies. He also served as President of the Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine. A native Canadian, Dr. Walls attended medical school at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine at Denver General Hospital. He held faculty positions at George Washington University Medical Center, Vancouver General Hospital, and the University of British Columbia, prior to joining BH.