Anubhav “Anu” Kaul, MD, MPH'13
Chief Medical Officer, Mattapan Community Health Center, Boston
Less than a year ago, Anu Kaul became the chief medical officer at Mattapan Community Health Center. MCHC serves as the primary care center for several Boston suburbs, including Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury. It's a community that is home to many immigrants and one that faces more than its share of socio-economic challenges.
"We have to think about everything beyond just the clinical part of taking care of a patient," Kaul says. "It's about housing; it's about inadequate insurance coverage, it's about social welfare; it's about their relationship with all the other community resources. A large part of our work is centered around community outreach and public health initiatives that promote preventive care and behavioral health."
As CMO, Kaul is in charge of clinical staff, clinical operations, and building MCHC's infrastructure to meet the clinical needs of its patients and the community at large. He prepared himself for the challenges of the CMO role by doing a fellowship in hospital management and leadership at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center outside of Boston, once he had completed his residency training in internal medicine. His fellowship was under the guidance of Joanne Conroy, then CEO of Lahey and now CEO of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
"It's a challenging role but at the same time it's very motivating because we are actively combating the disparities in health care that our diverse and underserved patients face," Kaul says. "We are looking to grow, build, and expand our primary care services through strategic investments in population health initiatives, technological advances in telemedicine, and through community partnerships where we all share a common goal, such the statewide fight against the opioid epidemic."
As a federally qualified health center, MCHC is part of one of the largest systems of primary and preventative care in the U.S. that provides care to patients regardless of ability to pay. However, its operations are dependent upon continued federal and state funding. Navigating the political climate and understanding how changes in health care legislation can affect the status and funding of federally qualified health centers is a pressing interest for Kaul, and one that he wants to do more advocacy around because of its direct impact on MCHC.
"How do we advocate for ourselves? How do you make a political appeal to demonstrate that health centers are about innovative and value-based primary care? They provide high-quality care to the community at a low cost," Kaul says. "I want to advocate for the kind of care we're providing on a national scale, and as the chief medical officer, that is my inherent responsibility."
My MPH education at Dartmouth helped me become more aware of the system and how we interact with our patients-not only in the clinical setting but also when the patient goes home. It gave me an edge, especially as a trainee in medicine, to be critical about over utilization of medical care and understand what is required to provide high-quality, low-cost care to our most vulnerable populations. It also fueled my fascination to better understand the operations of a health care organization and how it exerts its presence in the community to help keep people healthy, while, at the same time, navigating the challenges of rising organizational expenses and evolving payment reform. My education truly equipped me for my role as a physician leader and as an advocate for the community I serve, while at the bedside or in the boardroom.