Visionary Family Physician Seeks to Revamp Health Care Delivery System

AAFP News Now Spotlights Jeffrey Brenner, M.D.

November 08, 2013 01:40 pm Sheri Porter

Atlanta-born Jeffrey Brenner, M.D., spent his childhood and adolescence in the Philadelphia suburb known as South Jersey. But today, this 44-year-old family physician is turning heads in nearby Camden, N.J. -- and in communities across the entire country -- with his visionary approach to health care that seeks to improve the lives of the sickest and neediest patients.

[Leadership-Beyond the Call: Members Making a Difference]

Brenner's approach identifies patients who are "super users" of health care and then showers them with intense and coordinated care. The end goal is to provide those patients quality care and decrease the cost to the system, according to Brenner.

His work as the executive director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers recently brought him to the attention of the nominating committee of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In a Sept. 24 press release, the foundation announced its list of 2013 MacArthur Fellows(, and Brenner's name was among the 24 awardees.

The award comes with a $625,000 cash payout.

But let's back up and see how a kid from South Jersey rose to national attention.

Brenner completed his undergraduate degree in biology at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in just three years -- and with honors -- before entering the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark. He attained his medical degree in 1995 and completed his residency at the Swedish Family Medicine Residency-First Hill in Seattle, Wash., in 1998.

AAFP News Now Interview

Jeffrey Brenner, M.D.

From that point to the present, Brenner has amassed a nine-page curriculum vitae awash with accomplishments and leadership skills in the health care arena. In organizations too numerous to list in this short biography, Brenner has assumed such titles as medical director, clinical instructor, committee member, medical consultant, director, faculty mentor and committee chair.

He started off his medical career as a staff physician at a family medicine clinic in Camden, N.J., and then opened his own practice in that same town, where he practiced for six years. He served on the New Jersey AFP Board of Directors from 2005 to 2008.

Brenner is a researcher, published author and a sought-after speaker who has delivered more than 200 public presentations in the past few years. He also knows how to find funding for health-related projects and has written, or helped secure, at least 15 grants since 1993 totaling more than $4.6 million.

He has won numerous teaching and community service awards and is a past New Jersey Family Physician of the Year. He currently serves as the medical director of the Urban Health Institute at the Cooper University of Health Care and as a faculty member at the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, both in Camden.

But the biggest chunk of Brenner's waking hours these days is invested in his leadership role at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers -- the organization Brenner founded in 2003.

AAFP News Now recently sat down with Brenner to talk about his career and accomplishments and how his training as a family physician has helped him along the way. To hear what he had to say, listen to the audio file above.

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