San Diego, October 26, 2008
— Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH, received the 2008 American Public Health Association (APHA) Award for Excellence for his distinguished achievements in transforming the operation and quality of the Veterans Affairs health care system.
Kizer, who served as under secretary for health in the Veterans Health Administration from 1994–1999, is now chairman of Medsphere Systems Corporation in Aliso Viejo, Calif. He is credited with reorganization of the VA health care system, decentralizing operational decision-making and implementing equitable resource allocation, universal primary care, performance measurement, a pharmacy benefit program and a computerized patient record system, among other accomplishments.
“Dr. Kizer transformed the VA health care system from hospital-focused, specialty-based care to patient-centered primary care through a series of operational as well as quality improvement measures,” said APHA member Linda W. Tsan, MD, MS, MM, co-chair of the APHA Medical Care Section’s Veteran’s Health Committee, in a letter nominating Kizer for the Award for Excellence.
“Dr. Kizer took a system whose reputation was of low performance and marginal quality care to one viewed by many as a model of what ought to be expected from modern medicine,” said Michael McGinnis, MD, MPP, of the Institute of Medicine, who praised Kizer for “assessing a population’s critical challenges, identifying priorities, setting targets, marshalling and directing the resources to the priorities, and measuring results.”
After working at the VA, Kizer continued his efforts to improve the quality of the nation’s health care, serving as president and chief executive officer of the National Quality Forum in Washington, D.C., from 1999–2005. While there he developed a unique public-private partnership of more than 300 organizations representing all segments of the health care industry to bring consensus on standards for measuring and reporting health care quality.
One of the earliest people to get a combined degree in medicine and public health (from UCLA in 1976), Kizer is certified in preventive medicine as well as medical toxicology, emergency medicine and medical management. His long history of medical and public health service includes a stint as a squadron medical officer and staff physician for the Navy Regional Medical Clinic in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, a group medical officer for the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group One in Barbers Point, Hawaii, a resident in diagnostic
radiology at the University of California, San Francisco, a consultant in diving and hyperbaric medicine, a resident in occupational medicine and director of Emergency Medical Services Authority for the state of California. He was also chief deputy director for preventive health services for the California Department of Health Services.
Kizer is a member of the Institute of Medicine and among his many awards and honors was given the Distinguished Service Medal for “distinguished work in veterans health care” by the American Legion in 2007. He was selected as one of the 100 Most Powerful People in Health Care by Modern Healthcare magazine in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005. He has been elected to numerous fellowships and has served on many boards, committees and task forces. His many publications have touched on such topics as screening services and hospital use and survival among Veterans Affairs beneficiaries.