CVS hires first chief health equity officer

CVS hires first chief health equity officer


CVS Health named Dr. Joneigh Khaldun its first chief health equity officer on Monday, making it the latest big healthcare company elevating health disparities to the C-suite.

Khaldun will guide the company’s care strategy for retail customers and members of its Aetna health insurance subsidiary The emergency physician will focus cultural competency across CVS Health’s clinical and population health programs, and will extend those activities to broader healthcare system, according to the company. She will report to Dr. Kyu Rhee, senior vice president of CVS Health and chief medical officer of Aetna.

The new executive previously held leadership positions at Michigan, Detroit and Baltimore health agencies. Khaldun worked in President Barack Obama’s White House and President Joe Biden appointed her to the Health and Human Services Department’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force this year.

Khaldun earned her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, completed a master degree in public health policy at George Washington University and finished her emergency medicine residency at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York. Khaldun practices part-time at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

“As a healthcare innovation company committed to health equity and breaking down barriers that perpetuate health disparities, Dr. Khaldun joins our team as chief health equity officer at a critically important time,” Rhee said in a news release. “Her expertise in creating solutions to help improve health outcomes will help us continue addressing health inequities for the consumers and communities we serve.”

People from underserved communities made up 40% of the COVID-19 vaccinations administered at CVS Pharmacy’s 10,000 retail locations, according to the company. CVS drugstores also conducted more than 42 million COVID-19 tests, at least half of which were for the same populations, CVS Health reported. The company identified these populations using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability index.

More than 40% of CVS pharmacists and 50% of pharmacy technicians identify as people of color, according to the company.

Last year, CVS Health pledged to invest nearly $600 million over the next five years to advance equity among historically disenfranchised communities by launching development programs for diverse workers, partnering with diverse suppliers and offering free health screenings through its Project Health program. The company also invested $114 million to build more than 2,800 affordable housing units in 30 cities in 12 states.

CVS Health’s new hire comes as more healthcare companies make health equity a part of their corporate structure.

Some competitors were ahead of CVS Health. Walgreens created a chief diversity officer position in 2011 and Rite Aid did the same last year.

In June, UnitedHealth Group named Joy Fitzgerald chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer after Karen Sachs retired.

At the start of this year, Humana named its first chief equity officer, Dr. Nwando Olayiwola, to direct corporate strategy and ensure cultural sensitivity across its clinical and member services programs.

Last May, Centene formed a health disparities task force within the company comprised of independent medical, not-for-profit and community leaders. The insurer is also currently looking to hire a health equity officer who will report to the company’s executive team, according to a LinkedIn listing.


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