Nemours uniquely positioned to tackle population health, says newly appointed executive

Kelly Gooch - Print  | 

Kara Odom Walker, MD, will become senior vice president and chief population health officer of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Nemours Children's Health System in September, and she brings senior-level governmental experience to the roles.

Dr. Walker is cabinet secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, an agency with 11 divisions and more than 4,000 employees.

At Nemours — a health system with two hospitals in Delaware and Florida — Dr. Walker will be based at the health system's national office in Washington, D.C., overseeing Nemours' advocacy and public policy. She will also be responsible for the health system's population health efforts including strategy, research and innovation.

R. Lawrence Moss, MD, Nemours president and CEO, said the chief population health officer is a newly created role for the organization, and Dr. Walker will play an active part in the health system's population health efforts in the Delaware Valley and Florida.

"Nemours' agenda is to transform the way people think of and pay for medical care in this country, and Dr. Walker is ready to help with that agenda. This was a natural fit. It's a wonderful fit for us," he said in an interview with Becker's Hospital Review.

Dr. Walker told Becker's she is excited about applying her skills and experience in public health, administration and health services research at Nemours. She said she is also excited that her new roles combine public policy approaches and applied health system innovations along with evidence generation through research.

"I look forward to learning and leveraging work that has already been done at Nemours, and the health system has a broad and important vision I'm looking forward to executing on," she said.

Additionally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Walker sees opportunity to think more about what it means to serve populations, as well as the transition in healthcare to paying physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers based on care quality and outcomes.

"Dr. Moss has been clear he's focused on how to make sure we're supporting a new way of paying for care and delivering care for children," she said.

"I think Nemours is uniquely positioned to execute on this vision and … move forward around population health and value-based service delivery," Dr. Walker added. The health system "has the potential to be a role model not only for the states in which they deliver care but also nationwide transformation in terms of how we think about health and other social factors and how they promote better health outcomes."


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