Class of 2017

Rakesh Pai, MD, MBA, MHCDS

President, Medical Group & Chief Population Health Officer
University of Michigan Health

For cardiologist Rakesh Pai, there’s an inherent satisfaction in helping a patient successfully manage an arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, or other big challenges. But Pai also has the creative drive of an entrepreneur, and in quiet moments, his mind naturally wanders to the bigger issues reflected in his practice—and to dreaming up scalable solutions.

“I saw a lot of waste in the day-to-day clinical work that I always found a bit frustrating,” says Pai, who now works as both a cardiologist and medical director of population health management for the Oregon region of Providence Health & Services, a large West Coast health care system. “I felt there weren’t enough people thinking about the really big issues—how do we think about a population, how do we design programs that make an impact, how do we reduce costs, reduce utilization of what I call low-value services, and do everything we can to make sure those most at-risk patients get the care that they need?”

Pai’s inclination to think on the macro level set him up as a good candidate to help lead the organization as it transitions from a fee-for-service model to a value-based model. In his new role, he has helped design pilots, including a home program for at-risk elders, which includes access to a geriatrician, nurse practitioner, physical therapist, pharmacist, and even a priest. But Pai also realized that the programs need to have a return on investment—and as a physician, he could use more schooling in finance and management. In 2014, he got an MBA, but even that training didn’t precisely fit his needs.

MBAs are great for traditional business exploits like entrepreneurship or marketing, but I felt there were some gaps around health policy, population health management, data, metrics, health economics,” says Pai. “That’s what spoke to me about the MHCDS program. It leverages the strengths of both organizations—Geisel and Tuck—to provide a world-class leading-edge curriculum in health care delivery science.”

It also appeals to his entrepreneurial inclination. For an action learning project, Pai is working to develop an online start-up that will educate medical, pharmacy, and nursing students in the latest health-care delivery concepts, including leadership, population health management, health economics, and shared decision making.

“There are all these cool things we want to do but we’ve got to make sure that they’re financially feasible,” says Pai. “MHCDS gives you a very deep toolbox.”