Permanente Federation co-CEOs talk health care innovation, quality, and physician leadership

Maria Ansari, MD, FACC

In a recent Becker’s Healthcare podcast interview, co-CEOs of The Permanente Federation, Maria Ansari, MD, FACC, and Ramin Davidoff, MD, discussed how Kaiser Permanente is transforming care and addressing physician shortages through innovation, and offered advice for other physician leaders.

Kaiser Permanente’s physician-led integrated care model is recognized for its high quality, which Dr. Davidoff notes is the result of recognizing and seizing opportunities.

“We made quality our true north,” he said. “Everything was evaluated from the lens of improving the practices and improving the care that’s provided in an evidence-based fashion. Now we’re realizing opportunities to improve in other aspects of care which are also critically important and linked to quality, such as access and convenience of care.”

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Ramin Davidoff, MD

Dr. Ansari said effective innovation and ensuring a positive patient experience requires strengthening the health care workforce, especially in primary care. In Kaiser Permanente’s integrated care system, primary care physicians play a pivotal role in coordinating care across specialties to improve outcomes and minimize the care coordination responsibilities patients may experience in other settings. That’s why she said Kaiser Permanente is working to strengthen and support primary care in the following ways:

  • Combatting burnout by fostering an environment where physicians have autonomy to make the best decisions for their patients without interference
  • Lobbying Congress for loan forgiveness for primary care physicians, particularly those working in a mission-based, not-for-profit environment
  • Bolstering the primary care pipeline by expanding education, training, and fellowship opportunities

In addition, Dr. Ansari said she is excited about bringing physicians back into primary care by underscoring its value in the community. “If we want an engaged workforce,” she said, “we need to create a job that is worthy of those in the profession.”

The importance of virtual care innovation and physician leadership

Continued advancement of virtual care is another priority to improve patient convenience and access. Kaiser Permanente has developed a virtual medical center that serves as a single platform connecting patients with the care and assistance they need, whether it’s finding urgent care, filling a prescription, or asking a question about their most recent visit.

Drs. Ansari and Davidoff also discussed their physician leadership journeys, emphasizing that the focus should always be on improving care for patients and achieving organizational success.

Related physician leadership story: Spotlighting physician leadership in an era of change

“You don’t need a title to be a leader in our organization,” Dr. Davidoff said. “Every person in the organization can lead from where they are. The best ideas always come from those who are right at the front line dealing with the day-to-day issues.”

Note: Listen to the full podcast interview at Becker’s Healthcare.