United Way is excited to spotlight Kate Koplan as a member of the Cole Society! Kate is Chief Quality Officer and Associate Medical Director at Kaiser Permanente, Georgia Region, she is also the Director of United Way’s Board of Directors, and she has served on the Kaiser Permanente Georgia Disparity Reduction Advisory Committee, and the Kaiser Permanente Georgia PRIDE Business Resource Group. She is a great asset to our community and to the Cole Society.
Please tell us about your role at Kaiser Permanente.
I serve as Chief Quality Officer at The Southeast Permanente Medical Group, which is the care delivery portion of Kaiser Permanente Georgia. I am trained as an Internal Medicine Physician and still provide urgent care as a provider with the medical group. As the Physician Leader for Quality, I oversee our traditional Quality Effectiveness Performance (such as cancer screenings, chronic disease management, and immunizations), as well as additional programming such as Culture of Safety (speak-up culture, perinatal quality and safety, safety event reporting and management), Research & Academic Affairs, Clinical Pharmacy Programming, Clinical Risk Management, and several other functions. From 2020-2022, I had the honor (and challenge!) of serving as Incident Co-Commander for our COVID-19 response – it was certainly the learning opportunity of a lifetime. I was constantly inspired by our teams’ and our members’ resiliency, creativity, and perseverance in the face of the pandemic’s challenges. It’s been more than 9 years in this role, and I still feel like I’m learning so much and contributing in very meaningful ways to the care of our members as well as the support of our healthcare teams.
You are a Director on the United Way Board of Directors! How did you first come to United Way?
Having grown up in metro Atlanta, I was always familiar with United Way in a sort of background-way to the community. I was aware of it more in concept than in specifics, but always respected the community-centered work that it undertook. In recent years, I had a few connections to United Way: 1) our Kaiser Permanente Georgia workforce giving campaigns included United Way as a highlighted recipient organization, 2) Kaiser Permanente Georgia partnered with United Way for community wellness and in social support development programming, 3) United Way in the local news for its work lifting up the community and especially its policy stance for child wellbeing specifically against human trafficking, and finally 4) my good friend and neighbor, Katina Asbell, was a role model in her community service and her commitment to United Way and its local impact. When asked to join United Way as a board member, I jumped at the opportunity to learn from fellow board members, support the management and functional teams at United Way, and bring back the ‘good word’ to my workplace and my own circle in the community.
What inspires you to Live United?
At work at Kaiser Permanente Georgia, I am inspired every single day by our mission: We provide high quality, affordable healthcare to our members and the communities we serve. This is very aligned with the mission of United Way of Greater Atlanta: When children thrive, communities can thrive. I love the concept of helping children reach their full potential, especially the focus on healthy (emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and environmentally) children. Besides engaging in workforce fundraising, as well as business partnerships between Kaiser Permanente Georgia & United Way, I also love discussing the great work of United Way with my neighbors and circle of friends, as well as including my 8-year-old son in United Way-sponsored volunteer activities.
We see that you are on the Kaiser Permanente Georgia Disparity Reduction Advisory Committee, and the Kaiser Permanente Georgia PRIDE Business Resource Group. Tell us how you use these platforms to help under- served communities in Georgia.
Yes, those are indeed two groups in which I participate, having been a sponsoring Executive Founder of the former and a past Executive Sponsor of the latter. The Disparities Advisory Committee is designed to discuss Equity within our care delivery system, and to design improvement strategies and monitor changes for the benefit of our members, their families, and our healthcare teams, for example commissioning a voice-of-the-member video ethnography project to elicit experiences and suggestions directly from a cohort of members who have diabetes and who are either Black/African American or LatinX, so that we can design improvement strategies specifically with their experiences in mind. The Business Resource Group generally focused on workforce EID issues related to LGBTQIA+ topics but will also venture into areas pertinent to care delivery, for example helping support the identification and support of Champions for our transgender members. These are just two examples of the ways in which we build Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity into our work at Kaiser Permanente Georgia. Also, we build Equity into all our Quality Frameworks by using the Institute of Medicine’s framework as a foundation: Safe, Timely, Effective, EQUITABLE, Efficient, and Person-Centered.
What is your favorite piece of advice?
I definitely prefer RECEIVING advice over giving it! But I do find myself thinking & saying these two phrases: First, “system is designed to get what you get,” which is loosely attributed in Performance Improvement science to Deming, but others are also quoted as using this, and second, “if we don’t lean in and do it, who will?”. These two approaches build on one another to recognize what is the current state of a situation at hand, and motivate towards improvement/action, especially in the absence of anyone else doing it or change not happening at the pace we’d like to see.