Q&A: Leaders should adopt a ‘boots-on-the-ground approach’

What first attracted you to the field of medicine?

Growing up, I never dreamed of being a doctor. I did not believe it could fulfill my need to achieve social justice, which was driven by my experience as an immigrant child from a war-torn nation. As I learned about the discipline, I realized I could change the course of a pathology that was inherited, at least in part, due to socioeconomic factors. In doing so, I could right a wrong. This attracted me to medicine and ignited a passion to dedicate my life to the equitable delivery of care.

You’ve only been in your current role since April. What drew you to this new opportunity?

I was drawn to my current role with Wellinks in the wake of a national pandemic with disproportionate effects on patients with underlying pulmonary disease. There are over 16 million patients with diagnosed COPD, predisposing this vulnerable population to a more severe course of COVID-19-related illness. I joined Wellinks not only because the company seeks to improve COPD care using a continuous, comprehensive and customized approach, but also because of their virtual-first model. Delivering care virtually helps improve equitable access to care from home, while avoiding the risk of acquired conditions prevalent in traditional healthcare settings.

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You’ve held several leadership roles over the past six years. What’s one surprising thing you’ve learned?

In today’s healthcare environment, leadership is much more than management. It is continuous change, demanding highly reliable processes to deliver consistent outcomes. What I have learned in my leadership journey is that decision-makers are often disconnected from the front lines, leading to failures in execution. Operational sensitivity is achieved when leaders adopt a boots-on-the-ground approach to better communicate the mission to a vast organization, and understand barriers to delivery.

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How would you describe your leadership style?

I believe the testament to a great leader is when their teams articulate their vision in their absence, so I have chosen to lead as a multiplier. For healthcare to improve, we all must step up as leaders, holding ourselves accountable to better outcomes, guiding the next generation, and being humble enough to abandon what does not work and think innovatively.

What advice would you give to other emerging leaders?

Cultivate compassion. Healthcare is not built around hospitals, insurance companies or venture firms. It is built around the individual interactions between patients and their caregivers. If we consider that interaction in the decisions we make, we will hit our metrics, whether it’s quality, cost or patient experience, because compassionate care will inevitably deliver value.

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