The Best Kept Secret with Dr. Kyu Rhee

The Other 80

Dec 13 2023 • 23 mins

Before the phrase “social drivers of health” was commonly used, Community Health Centers had already developed a model of care that was holistic, grounded in social change and embedded in the community. At this year’s HLTH Conference in Las Vegas, I sat down with Dr. Kyu Rhee, the new CEO of the National Association of Community Health Centers. Dr. Rhee brings a fresh perspective to NACHC as a clinician and an immigrant with broad experience in policy, clinical practice and technology.

We discuss:

  • What medicine would look like if every doctor was trained in a community health center, not just in fancy hospitals.
  • How CHCs knock quality metrics out of the park while improving equity.
  • One secret to community embeddedness: Every CHC must name patients to at least half of the governing board seats.
  • The new prescriptions to improve health: food and iPads.

Kyu reminds us that changing an entire system can’t happen overnight, we need patience and passion:

“Earlier in my career as a medical director, I was like, “We got to fix this!” And I think I had to learn that there's so many angles on how you see a problem … so that passion of advocating for health equity and the injustices, you have to be thoughtful about allowing that passion to be part of your purpose, but also being patient in the process.”

Relevant Links

Website for the National Association of Community Health Centers

Economic Impact of Community Health Centre in the United States [PDF]

America’s Health Centers by the Numbers [PDF]

"How the Civil Rights Movement Gave Rise to Community Health Centers" [BLOG]

About Our Guest

Dr. Kyu (“Q”) Rhee, MD, MPP, joined the National Association of Community Health Centers as CEO in 2023. He leads efforts to advance health equity and support the mission of community health centers, which provide high-quality, affordable, transdisciplinary primary care services to more than 31.5 million people at over 14,000 sites across the nation. He has held leadership roles as the Senior Vice President and Aetna Chief Medical Officer at CVS Health, as the Chief Health Officer at IBM, and as Chief Public Health Officer at the Health Resources and Services Administration. Dr. Rhee has a medical degree from the University of Southern California and a masters degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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