Dr. Robert L. Ferrer is John M. Smith, Jr. Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the UT Health San Antonio.
Dr. Ferrer is a practicing family physician with research interests at the interface of primary care and public health, including primary care transformation and quality improvement, social determinants of health, and applications of complexity science to health and health care. He has been the principal investigator on grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, as well as other state and local funders.
Currently, he also serves as Director of Community Engagement for UT Health San Antonio's Clinical Translational Science Award. Since 2009, he has been an associate editor for the Annals of Family Medicine. In 2002, he received a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar award. From 2007-09 he served on the AHRQ Innovations Exchange initial Expert Panel.
He is active in community health initiatives, serving as chair of the leadership team for San Antonio’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant from the CDC and also as a member of the core group for the Bexar County Health Collaborative’s Community Health Improvement Plan.Dr. Ferrer is dedicated to providing excellent primary care, including adult medicine, obstetrical care and delivery for low-risk pregnancies, and inpatient hospital care of adults and newborns.
An ongoing line of investigation has examined the delivery of primary care from both a theoretical and empirical perspective, the latter examining processes and outcomes in the primary care medical home. These publications have advanced our understanding of the role of primary care in a complex health system managing complex populations, as well as documented important principles of changing primary care practices to be more responsive to the needs of their practice population. The empirical papers also established a set of commonly used methodologies for measuring practice improvement in primary care.
The second line of investigation has focused on health behavior change in primary care, applying human development models that examine behavior as a function of human agency and available opportunity. The work operationalizes the Capability Approach in health care and public health. “Capabilities” are practical opportunities for individuals to realize the goals they value. Starting with qualitative work in a disadvantaged community, our group developed measures of feasible opportunities for a healthy diet and physical activity and then demonstrated that the measures meaningfully predict behavioral intentions for diet and activity, as well as achieved diet, activity, and BMI.