Getting to know you: Oren Gottfried, MD



The world is awash in data, and if you have the interest and the ability to sort through it, you can find some very useful insights. About four years ago, Oren Gottfried, MD, associate professor and clinical vice chair for quality in the Department of Neurosurgery,  was charged with digging into the quality, safety, and outcomes data available for the department, to determine how it could be used to improve care.  He found that you could develop protocols and initiatives that lead to measurably improved outcomes in specific areas. For example, a form with prompts can help the patient organize and formulate their questions, for a more satisfying visit and a better patient-physician relationship. Initiatives like this one fit well with Oren’s overall philosophy of being focused on all the patient’s needs (he hands out his personal cell phone number with permission to use it anytime, 24/7). Today, he is proud that the Department of Neurosurgery’s outcomes rankings have risen to be among the very best in the country for neurosurgery.

Oren’s quality and safety work has been a fulfilling project, but it’s not his only one. For years he’s been a consultant to television medical series, including Chicago Med, Elementary, Royal Pains, and others. In this role he regularly reviews scripts, pitches and develops story ideas, collaborates with producers on all aspects of the writing process, and answers questions from the set like, “Is this what this type of stroke looks like?” His ultimate goal is to write an entire episode, and he says he’s approaching this challenge the same way he approaches patient care or an upcoming surgery: with close study. He watches a show as a doctor would, studying and examining the story lines, the flow or standard formulas,  the characters, and how they process information and interact. 

Oren and his wife Jill Moore, a Duke gastroenterologist, have three children, ages 11, 7, and 5. He loves spending time with his kids, including – no surprise here – concocting elaborate bedtime stories. He has a different story for each child, and spends extensive time in the evenings advancing the plots and developing the characters. He and his oldest also play violin together, and the whole family joins in on hikes or a game of Ultimate Frisbee.