Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals

Dr. Patrick T. Courneya is executive vice president and chief medical officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, leading the National Health Plan and Hospital Quality department. He co-sponsors the organization’s Care Management Institute, which supports care improvement by spreading evidence-based practices. He also partners with medical group leaders to oversee the national quality program.


What advice do you have for new physicians?

Seek joy every day in the connection you can make with patients by understanding them deeply. Work with them to craft plans for their health that make sense in their everyday lives. Fight to maintain balance in your life. Joy found by spending time with family and friends and taking care of yourself will change the way you connect with your patients. They will notice.

If you could change one thing about healthcare, what would it be?

I fear that the pace of healthcare has reached a point where it is squeezing out the time needed to connect with patients. Healthcare needs to shift the balance to increase the time physicians and care team members have available to connect with and understand those we are trying to serve. That, I believe, is the path to patient-centered care and joyful careers in medicine.

What life experience has taught or changed you the most?

During summers when I was a boy, I worked with my father every weekend, helping him with repairs and building projects around our house and lake cabin. I learned so much from him about working with my hands and working with people. It was a source of great joy and connection, and I found that I learned continuously in the work, in the conversation, and in the quiet time between words.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I am basically introverted and am most comfortable in the company of a small number of close friends and family. We have 11 grandchildren and my time with them is incredible. My wife Michele is my closest friend, and we enjoy nothing more than a quiet weekend with some hiking, some reading, and maybe a good movie. I really love that.

A headshot of Patrick T. Courneya, MD