The Chief Population Health Officer Joins the “C” Change in Healthcare
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In healthcare it’s getting pretty crowded at the top, as more and more executive positions lay claim to full-fledged C-suite membership. In the past several years, the industry has seen roles such as the CFO, CIO, and chief legal officer achieve significantly elevated status amidst a climate of economic stress, focus on big data, and increased litigation. At the same time, new positions such as chief technology officer and chief strategy officer have moved into the executive wing and claimed a seat at the table.

Jim King

Jim King

Enter the chief population health officer (CPHO), a position just beginning to take root, but one that Jim King, Witt/Kieffer senior partner and chief quality officer, believes will grow and prosper. “A lot of healthcare systems are trying to figure out what the new healthcare delivery model needs to look like in each of their markets,” he told Heather Punke of Becker’s Hospital Review recently. The CPHO helps do just this across an entire organization, he notes.

Besides helping to implement a population health management strategy, the CPHO might also forge relationships with payers and community partners to further ACO development, or work closely with colleagues such as the CFO and chief clinical officer to redesign payment methods and care models. The position is still in its infancy and has yet to be clearly defined, and there may be different variations of the title depending on the organization, King notes, but some of the key prerequisites include:

  • An MD and other relevant, advanced degrees
  • Public health experience
  • A leadership role in a large physician group
  • Experience with team-based care

There aren’t many executives who fit this bill, King adds. Thus, competition will be fierce to find qualified candidates. It will benefit organizations to develop population health leaders internally who can move into one or more positions as they are created.

So expect the CPHO role to become a fixture in today’s health systems—granted there is enough C-suite office space to go around.

By Paul Thomas, Senior Writer (@PaulWThomas)

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