Dr. Christine Cassel will be leaving her role as president and CEO of the National Quality Forum to join the leadership team of the newly announced Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine.
Effective March 1, she will join a multidisciplinary team of physician, health-plan and operational leaders to design and launch Kaiser's independent medical school in Southern California.
It's “not just another medical school,” Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson told Modern Healthcare. The Oakland, Calif.-based not-for-profit system is planning an academic program that will emphasize patient-centered care, and teach future doctors how to provide high-quality, population-based care for patients that relies on a team-based approach to improve outcomes. The first class is expected to enroll in the fall of 2019.
Cassel served on the board of directors at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals for over a decade before concerns were raised last year about potential conflicts of interest with the NQF. In the fallout from those events, she simultaneously stepped down from the Kaiser Permanente and Premier boards in February 2014.
The NQF leads national collaboration to improve health and healthcare quality through measurement. Since joining the group in 2013, Cassel has focused her efforts on advancing leadership in quality improvement, diversifying funding and introducing greater innovation and efficiency to measurement endorsement.
During her tenure, the organization came under increasing pressure to improve the measures used to judge the quality of the nation's hospitals, as well as quality measures for physician practices and other providers. A spokesperson for the NQF said an interim CEO will be identified in the “near future,” and that NQF Board Chairman Dr. Bruce Siegel will begin a national search for a new CEO in January.
Throughout her career, Cassel has been seen as a pioneer, and has been the first woman to hold several leadership titles, according to an NQF press release. Those include her positions as the first female chair of the American Board of Internal Medicine, president of the American College of Physicians, and dean of the School of Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University.
She was one of 20 scientists chosen by President Barack Obama to serve on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in 2010. Cassel is an expert in geriatric medicine, medical ethics and quality of care, has been a member of the Institute of Medicine since 1992, and has also appeared as a perennial member of Modern Healthcare's 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare.