Meet our Chief Medical Officer, Michael Poku, MD, MBA

Meet NextHealth Technologies (NHT) Chief Medical Officer Michael Poku, MD, MBA

Dr. Poku is NHT’s clinical strategy leader. In this role, he brings his passion for developing, implementing and measuring the effectiveness of novel care models to the challenge of optimizing payer clinical and quality programs with descriptive, predictive and increasingly prescriptive analytics.

Dr. Poku also is a practicing primary care physician who serves as a senior medical director for Oak Street Health, a network of primary care centers that delivers value-based care to adults on Medicare. He holds clinical faculty positions at the Methodist Health System in Dallas and UT Southwestern. At McKinsey & Company, Dr. Poku worked as a management consultant in the payer and provider space. He also has experience in intellectual property management, venture capital/private equity, and healthcare operations and strategy.

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Poku about his background, his career and his work at NHT.

Why did you become a physician?
My mother was a nurse, and I often volunteered at the hospital where she worked. I became very passionate about service to my community, and I really wanted to apply my interests in the sciences towards improving the lives of patients and families by focusing on ‘whole-person care.’ I also discovered I have a genuine affinity for the systems aspect of health care.

Why did you choose internal medicine?
Internal medicine gives the broadest view of the patient’s journey. The internist, particularly a primary care provider, is the quarterback who navigates a patient through health, sickness and the healthcare delivery system.

I really enjoy this broad clinical view. I’m fascinated by not only physiology and longitudinal management of conditions but other elements that are so key in medical care such as how to motivate patients and families and how to spur health behavior change.

Why do you continue to see patients?
Patients help me to stay incredibly grounded. It’s imperative to never forget that the work we do in healthcare impacts patients and their families. Staying close to the delivery side and continuing to see patients reminds me of the need to improve our country’s healthcare system.

What did you do for McKinsey & Company?
My focus was on value-based care initiatives and addressing systems-level improvements in healthcare on both the payer and the provider side. In essence, I boiled down data and intelligence from disparate sources to help clients improve the lives of the patients under their auspices.

What led you to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School
As a clinician, I observed many of ills of our healthcare system were perpetuated because of a lack of people who could navigate different critical dimensions such as medicine, operations, policy and finance. Too often, a given stakeholder was trying to ‘fix’ things in a myopic and siloed manner.

I had a keen sense that being able to help improve the U.S. healthcare system required folks to be able to think along various intersections of these dimensions and I saw the MBA as a great way to add value at the important junction of medicine and business.

Why did you join NextHealth Technologies?
NextHealth has a unique set of assets and capabilities to galvanize the changes we need in healthcare and to do it in a transformative way. Healthcare is in desperate need for data-driven insights to help enhance quality and remove waste from the system.

NextHealth partners with health plans to answer this critical question – How do you convert claims, demographic and social determinant data into knowledge and insights that plans can quickly act on to personalize healthcare engagement and improve outcomes and costs?

There are too many stakeholders that don’t know how to start this journey (or continue it) and NextHealth is well-positioned to help health plans navigate during these turbulent, ever-changing times. Ensuring the data ‘leads’ is key for the next wave of transformation in healthcare and NextHealth has the right people, processes, and technology to lead the charge.

NextHealth is excited to have Dr. Poku on the team and is looking forward to having his deep clinical expertise help shape our future.

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