Becker's Clinical Leadership Virtual Event: 5 Qs with Dr. Ajay Kumar, chief clinical officer of Hartford HealthCare

As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the first Becker's Healthcare Clinical Leadership Virtual Event Sept. 9-10.

Ajay Kumar, MD, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare, will serve on the panel, "Top Priorities for Chief Clinical Officers in 2020 and Beyond."

To learn more about the conference and Dr. Kumar's session, click here.

Editor's note: Responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity.

Question: What clinical initiative is taking up the most of your time and attention right now?

Dr. Ajay Kumar: There are three: 

  • Clinical redesign to reduce systemwide variation and improve cost structure 
  • COVID-19 resurgence planning
  • Quality and patient safety improvement across the continuum of care and not limited to acute facilities

Q: What is your biggest patient care concern amid the pandemic, and how are you working to address it?

AK: One concern is colleague wellness. We created a wellness team led by a designated  wellness officer and are leveraging our behavioral network resources. We also developed a peer support process, which entails actively reaching out to high-risk areas to provide real-time support. We are also maintaining our current focus on safety, discipline around COVID-19 screening (both patients and colleagues) and social-distancing efforts.

Q: What's one lesson you learned early in your career that has helped you lead in healthcare?

AK: I have always believed that authenticity and integrity with relationships is key to lead. A constant attention to what matters most with clarity, urgency and agility is how I work.    

Q: What's the most important way clinical leaders can support their team's well-being and resilience during the pandemic?

AK: Listening and an empathic approach is the first step. Acknowledging the stress points and making a sincere effort to improve processes for colleagues is important.  

Q: Where are the biggest opportunities for patient safety or quality improvements in 2020 and beyond?

AK: I will share four:

  • Creating a system of care ready for emerging pathogens
  • Innovation geared toward safety in healthcare
  • Home care delivery model optimization
  • Reduce harm during transition

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:

Antiviral regimen allows for safe transplant of kidneys from hepatitis C-positive donors
Anxiety, depression linked to avoiding medical care during pandemic
Ochsner pressured 8 COVID-19 patients to accept hospice care, families say

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