Dr. Rainu Kaushal, chair of the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine and physician-in-chief of healthcare policy and research at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, has been named one of Crain’s inaugural Notable Women in Health Care in New York City.
Dr. Kaushal is one of 78 women chosen by Crain’s New York Business to honor female professionals working in healthcare whose contributions have significantly influenced New York City. The accolade recognizes their professional, civic and philanthropic achievements, including community service, proven commitment to mentorship, and promotion of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
“This is such an honor, and I’m thrilled for the recognition,” said Dr. Kaushal, who is also the Nanette Laitman Distinguished Professor of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine. “Weill Cornell Medicine, led by Dean Augustine M.K. Choi, has set out an agenda that focuses on clinical, educational and scientific excellence, as well as a culture of mentorship, collegiality, diversity and inclusion. This honor is a testament to where we're going as an institution. I'm proud to be a faculty leader here.”
An accomplished health services researcher and esteemed leader, Dr. Kaushal has greatly expanded the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research since her appointment as chair in 2013. In the past five years, Dr. Kaushal has recruited 20 new faculty members, established two additional academic divisions and more than tripled the department’s overall research funding.
Such increased research support includes a $5.8 million National Institute on Drug Abuse grant that in 2015 established the Center for Health Economics of Treatment Interventions for Substance Use Disorder, HCV, and HIV. The center, led by Dr. Bruce Schackman, a professor of healthcare policy and research at Weill Cornell Medicine, is dedicated to understanding the complex economics of treating substance use disorders. In another example, the department collaborated with the Physicians Foundation last spring to establish the Physicians Foundation Center for the Study of Physician Practice and Leadership, directed by Dr. Lawrence Casalino, chief of the Division of Health Policy and Economics, which studies the way physician practices are organized and funded. And Dr. Art Sedrakyan, a professor of healthcare policy and research, works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to evaluate the safety and long-term outcomes of implantable devices.
“My department as a whole is evolving into one of the top health data sciences groups in the country,” Dr. Kaushal said. “We are using data to improve the health of patients and the delivery of healthcare to patients.”
A 15-year veteran of Weill Cornell Medicine, Dr. Kaushal is dedicated to fostering a culture of mentorship, diversity and inclusion. Dr. Kaushal is particularly passionate about supporting women in academic medicine, as well as nurturing the talents of junior faculty and graduate students to ensure their success as they continue in their careers. Under her leadership, the department increased its master’s degree offerings from one program with eight students to four programs—including the flagship Executive MBA/MS Healthcare Leadership Program—with 120 students matriculating in fall 2018. Established in 2016 between Weill Cornell Medicine and the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, the two-year, dual-degree eMBA/MS program provides the next generation of healthcare leaders with the requisite skills to tackle changes in healthcare systems’ structure, payment and regulatory requirements.
“We really believe that learning how to lead is a scientific discipline,” Dr. Kaushal said.
Dr. Kaushal’s leadership extends to her own research, which seeks to leverage healthcare data and information technology to improve the value and quality of patient care. As principal investigator of the New York City Clinical Data Research Network (NYC-CDRN), the largest urban clinical data set in the country, Dr. Kaushal and her team are analyzing de-identified medical data on 22 million patients in order to get a comprehensive snapshot of clinical care in New York. The consortium, which includes all of the city’s academic medical centers, is using this data to support 35 studies that will inform new approaches to healthcare delivery, more economical treatment models and even clinical trial design.
Dr. Kaushal is also a principal investigator for the New York City consortium of the NIH’s All of Us Research Program, which seeks to advance individualized prevention, treatment and care for people of all backgrounds. The overall goal is to enroll 1 million diverse people to determine how lifestyle, environment and biological makeup can affect disease. The New York City consortium involves Weill Cornell Medicine, Columbia University Irving Medical Center, NYC Health + Hospitals Harlem and NewYork-Presbyterian; the initiative formally launched in May.
“The ability of this network to support research across the country will be unprecedented,” Dr. Kaushal said. “It will be the richest longitudinal cohort study that our country has seen so far.”
Simultaneously, Dr. Kaushal co-chairs or serves on numerous leadership committees for national organizations, including the National Academy of Medicine, the National Quality Forum and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.
“Dr. Rainu Kaushal is the definition of a Notable Woman in Health Care,” said Dr. Geraldine McGinty, chief strategy officer of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Physician Organization, who nominated Dr. Kaushal for the Crain’s honor. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award than her.”