Dr. Walls is the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Brigham and Women’s Health Care (BWHC) and the Neskey Family Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. BWHC 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 over 160 ambulatory physician practices. BWHC is a founding member of Partners Healthcare, Inc, the largest healthcare system and largest employer in Massachusetts. BWHC has over 18,000 employees and an annual operating budget of 2.8 billion dollars, including over $600 million in research funding.
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 underwent 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 over 60 minutes to under 15 minutes, while propelling patient satisfaction scores to the 99th %-ile nationally. While chair, Dr. Walls formed three successful divisions, initiated four fellowship programs, and established a durable program for faculty professional development. He served the Brigham and Women’s Physician Organization, with over 1500 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 over 160 scientific publications, including 19 textbooks, and 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 BWH.
Although the challenges of his current position are different from those in Emergency Medicine, the sound leadership qualities Dr. Walls possesses—composure, foresight, inclusivity and strategic and operational expertise—continue to serve the hospital well as he executes a broader strategic vision across the institution. As executive vice president and chief operating officer, Dr. Walls is responsible for BWHC’s day-to-day operations and, along with BWHC President, Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, guides both short and long term strategy to position the system for success well into the future.