Picker Institute: The Commonwealth Fund, 1994

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



Case Study Sector


Dr. Harvey Picker was a pioneer of X-ray and ultrasound technology. In 1986, the small family foundation that he had founded with his wife Jean merged with The Commonwealth Fund. After Jean Picker was hospitalized with a life-threatening medical condition, the Pickers decided that the medical profession, despite its impressive technology and expertise, was insufficiently responsive to the concerns of its patients. To remedy the failing, they initiated the Picker/Commonwealth Program for Patient-Centered Care. It was to be a research organization seeking to determine what factors are most important to patients and whether health care providers are adequately responsive to patient preferences.
In 1994, the Commonwealth Program was chartered as an independent not-for-profit institution, supported by The Commonwealth Fund and overseen by Dr. Picker. It would provide research on the state of health care on the local, regional, and national level, and offer surveys which hospitals and HMOs could use to gauge their performance. The Picker Institute developed a wide range of survey tools that quickly set the standard in performance measurement within the health care field.



  • Field Building


  • Northern America

Blog Posts

More on time, value, and time limits

February 19, 2018

A new report applies a theory of time and value in philanthropy to three real cases, to see how a foundation could decide whether to operate with a limited life, based on the amount and kind of value it hopes to create.


Oct 05

Rip Rapson
President and CEO
The Kresge Foundation