Edward H. Wagner, MD, MPH

“Our models for transforming primary care both focus, quite appropriately, on patients. And they improve patients' health and health care experiences.”

Edward H. Wagner, MD, MPH

Group Health Research Institute Senior Investigator
Director (Emeritus), MacColl Center


Patients and health care systems worldwide have benefited  from Edward Wagner's commitment to transforming health care. Best known for  innovations in chronic illness care, Dr. Wagner's work spans a range of topics  in health services research and produces results that consistently enhance our  nation's capacity for health systems change.

Translating evidence-based methods of improving care into  practice is the tie that binds Dr. Wagner's investigations in preventive  medicine, geriatrics, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Another  common thread is collaboration—between researchers and health care teams and between health care teams and patients. Under his leadership, several projects, initiatives, and  organizations aimed at improving care have sprung up and flourished.

Group Health Research Institute's founding director, Dr. Wagner established its MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation in 1992, launching a new effort to move advances in quality improvement research into practice. He and his team developed and disseminated the Chronic Care Model (CCM), an evidence-based framework for health care that delivers safe, effective, and collaborative care to patients.

The CCM is widely recognized for its capacity to guide health care teams in caring for chronically ill patients. Funded as a national program by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and led by Dr. Wagner, Improving Chronic Illness Care (ICIC) introduced the Chronic Care Model to a wide spectrum of organizations, ranging from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to individual health care practices of all sizes and types.

Dr. Wagner also serves as principal investigator for the Cancer Research Network CRN, a National Cancer Institute-funded consortium of 14 health-plan-based research organizations. The CRN is part of the HMO Research Network, a larger alliance of health care delivery organizations with  sophisticated research capabilities that he helped establish in 1996.

Dr. Wagner's professional service is extensive. Locally, he served as co-chair of the task force that led to the creation of the Puget Sound Health Alliance (PSHA); he now participates in its quality improvement committee. PSHA is a regional multi-stakeholder collaboration committed to improving health care quality and reducing costs in the Pacific Northwest.

In 2007, Dr. Wagner received the Health Quality Award from the National Committee for Quality Insurance (NCQA) and was elected  into the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, now National Academy of Medicine. A longstanding champion of patient-centered care, he was also  honored in 2007 with the Picker  Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Patient-Centered Care—for  advocating that respecting patients' values and preferences be central to chronic illness care. He received the Founders' Award from the American College of Medical Quality in 2010. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the University of North Carolina.

Dr. Wagner has authored two books and more than 250  publications. He serves on the editorial boards of Health Services Research, the British Medical Journal and the Journal of Cancer Survivorship. He is also a professor of health services at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Research interests and experience

Recent publications

Wagner EH. A First Step on the Journey to High-Quality Chronic Illness Care. Healthc Pap. 2016;15 Suppl:62-5. PubMed

Ratzliff A, Phillips KE, Sugarman JR, Unutzer J, Wagner EH. Practical approaches for achieving integrated behavioral health care in primary care settings. Am J Med Qual. 2015 Dec 23. pii: 1062860615618783. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Ludman EJ, McCorkle R, Bowles EA, Rutter CM, Chubak J, Tuzzio L, Jones S, Reid RJ, Penfold R, Wagner EH. Do depressed newly diagnosed cancer patients differentially benefit from nurse navigation? Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 28. pii: S0163-8343(15)00038-9. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.02.008 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Jones SM, Ludman EJ, McCorkle R, Reid R, Bowles EJ, Penfold R, Wagner EH. A differential item function analysis of somatic symptoms of depression in people with cancer. J Affect Disord. 2015 Jan 1;170:131-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.09.002. Epub 2014 Sep 10. PubMed


healthy findings blog

Integrating behavioral health into primary care: The time has come

Dr. Ed Wagner offers guidance for care teams as they begin to treat mental health, substance abuse, and behavioral disorders.

Read it in Healthy Findings.

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