Julia Hallisy, DDS
Julia Hallisy has practiced general dentistry in San Francisco for 26 years. In 1989, her life changed forever when her late daughter, Katherine Eileen, was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma at 5 months of age.
The shattering diagnosis began a 25-year involvement in healthcare safety and quality efforts as her family struggled with poor communication, misdiagnosis, chemotherapy, radiation, amputations and a life-threatening surgical site infection that led to sepsis and profound disability for the remaining 19 months of Kate’s life.
Her work is inspired by the generous spirit of her daughter, who insisted that the lessons learned from her illness be shared with others to spare them the pain and frustration of having to learn the hard way how to effectively participate in their care and how to experience better- and safer- outcomes. As Kate and her family developed the skills to be successful advocates, they became convinced that others could as well.
Dr. Hallisy knows from first-hand experience caring for her daughter throughout the ten years of her life that using basic information is an essential first step in developing the skills and confidence we all need to be able to fully engage and participate in our care. To that end, Dr. Hallisy founded the Empowered Patient Coalition non-profit in 2009 and works to inform, engage and empower patients and their family members, caregivers, advocates and providers. She is a Consumers Union Safe Patient Project advocate and has worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Partnership for Patients, the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), The California Quality Colloquium, the California Nurses Association, Avoid Readmissions through Collaboration (ARC), the Tennessee Center for Patient Safety and many others.
Dr. Hallisy feels a strong moral imperative to share her hard-won knowledge to help others experience medical care that is truly patient-centered. The Hallisy’s had the great fortune to work with a pediatric oncologist who was one of the inspirations for the Planetree movement, and they know that patient-centered care is not only possible – it is the key to transforming our healthcare system.
Julia Hallisy is still humbled everyday by Kate’s strength and wisdom at such a young age while struggling with life-threatening illness. “What would Katherine say?” is the North Star that guides every aspect of her patient advocacy work.