Get to Know Thomas Cornwell, MD
CEO, Home Centered Care Institute
Founder, HomeCare Physicians, Northwestern Medicine
Past President, American Academy of Home Care Medicine
Dr. Cornwell’s mission is home health care. Selected the outstanding graduate of his class, he graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School and served his family practice residency at Lutheran General Hospital. HomeCare Physicians was founded by Dr. Cornwell in 1997 and he has made over 33,000 house calls. He founded Home Centered Care Institute in 2012 after receiving a large philanthropic gift to create a national education and research organization whose mission is to expand house call programs and the workforce nationally. His innovative care and commitment to the field has been recognized through numerous awards including the first ever House Call Doctor of the Year and the Pride in the Profession Award given by the American Medical Association to four heroes in health care in America bringing pride to the medical profession. The American Geriatric Society presented Dr. Cornwell with the 2015 Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine award, he was named a 2017 Top 100 Most Creative People in Business for bringing health care into the home by Fast Company, and in 2018 he was honored in the House of Representatives. Dr. Cornwell joined the Board in 2008.
We recently spoke with Dr. Cornwell about his experiences.
What attracted you to the field of homecare medicine?
I have always been drawn to disenfranchised populations. In the early 1990s I volunteered one day per week at a Chicago inner city clinic for the uninsured and did missions work in Mexico and Africa. A colleague desired to spread Dr. Gresham Bayne’s house call mission to Chicago and asked if I would be interested. The homebound were a disenfranchised population not because they lacked insurance, but because they had difficulty accessing health care. Dr. Gresham Bayne is one of the founding fathers of the modern house call movement, and I could not have had a better teacher and mentor.
What keeps you in the field?
The incredible impact home-based primary care has on both patients and caregivers keeps me going. It is remarkable after 25 years of house calls that I am still amazed daily by the difference they make. I enjoy providing compassionate end-of-life care that has enabled 75% of our decedents over the past 15 years to die in the comfort of their home surrounded by loved ones. I also get to work with remarkably committed colleagues and a staff passionate to make a difference.
Why AAHCM? What drives your involvement?
I owe my life’s work to the AAHCM. If they had not doubled payments for house calls in the late 1990s followed by doubling and tripling payments for Assisted Living Visits in 2006, my practice would not have survived. It only takes two house calls to pay for AAHCM membership. It is exciting to work with the AAHCM to help transform our nation’s health system for the better. It is an honor and a privilege to work with the Academy’s remarkable Board of Directors and membership to help transform our nation’s health care system for the better.
How did you start? What advice can you offer to a person considering volunteering with AAHCM?
I started by going to Annual Meetings and got to meet the national leadership who were always approachable and willing to give of their time and advice. I became involved in the awards committee and later the nomination committee before joining the board. It has been both exciting and rewarding to work with such remarkable people who want to provide the best care and be a part of improving our health system. Home-based primary care providers are a small group that have already made profound changes through the AAHCM. We are stronger in numbers and I would encourage all providers to join the AAHCM and become involved to continue moving the field forward in dramatic ways.
To learn more about getting involved with the AAHCM, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.