Philip Sloan, MD, MPH, Distinguished Professor and
Director of Academic Advancement,
University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine

Phil is a family physician and geriatrician. He co-directs (with Dr. Sheryl Zimmerman) the Program on Aging, Disability, and Long-Term Care of the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC-Chapel Hill, which has conducted over 50 funded studies of care issues related to older persons. He is particularly noted for his work around the management of behavioral symptoms in Alzheimer’s disease, for which he received the prestigious Pioneer Award from the U.S. Alzheimer’s Association.

An advocate for change and improvement in primary care medical practice, Phil founded the North Carolina Family Medicine Research Network and the North Carolina Network Consortium, which conduct research statewide under the current directors, Dr Katrina Donahue and Dr. Jacquie Halladay. Phil also is highly involved in and committed to education of professionals, paraprofessionals, and consumers, including activities that translate research findings into practice.


  1. What comes to mind when you hear the word innovation?

Innovation means that someone was thinking about how to do something better and, rather than just talk about it, actually made the effort to develop and try out a new way. In today’s complex world, innovation is necessary but can also be disruptive; it must be done thoughtfully and one step at a time, with evaluation guiding us from one step to the next.

  1. Do you have an innovation role model and why?

There are several faculty in my home department – the Department of Family Medicine here at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – who have provided consistent leadership in looking for ways to do things differently and better. We love to attack sacred cows. Not coincidentally, UNC was ranked first in primary care this year by US News and World Report.

  1. How do you try and instill a culture of innovation around you?

One of my favorite sayings is from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

  1. Is there a particular innovation that has made your professional life easier? Any special non-health care innovation you use at home?

The cell phone. I’m not an early adopter, but I had my first one – a bag phone – 30 years ago. I don’t know why anyone still wears a pager.

  1. What excites you most about the AMDA Innovations Platform Advisory Council?

I’ve said for years that providers and the public both like hospital care; providers have a lot of complaints, but the public generally likes primary care; and everybody complains about long-term care. This means to me that long-term care is the place to be if you want to be a change agent. And, not surprisingly, there are many more transformative models of care emerging in the PALTC setting than anywhere else in health care.