Five Healthcare Administrators Changing the World

Healthcare administrators coordinate the delivery of health services. But underneath that mandate is a massive scope of work. Healthcare administration has become a broad, multidisciplinary field that is as complex as the population it serves. Managing the delivery of health services requires a knowledge of business strategy, organizational leadership, scientific research, broader advocacy, and public policy. Also, new developments and innovations in healthcare technology are allowing these professionals to serve patients better and deliver cutting-edge care.

Healthcare administrators can manage hospitals, collaborate with universities, design medical department strategy, lead health-related businesses, and influence public policy; the very best of them may do all of these, and more, over the course of their career. Top healthcare administrators today are reinventing the industry from the inside out and changing the world in the process. Their work ranges from the introduction of physician checklists to setting up networks of community health workers in rural areas, to implementing blockchain technology in tandem with medical records to reduce inefficiencies, costs, and errors. The five healthcare administrators profiled below are a few of the country’s top leaders in the field.

Five Healthcare Administrators Changing the World


Sandra L. Fenwick is the chief executive officer and president of Boston Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s top hospitals specializing in pediatric care. As CEO, she is in charge of managing the hospital’s 415 beds, $2.6 billion in revenue, $375 million in research funding, 1,600 physicians, 1,000 residents, and over 12,000 employees. She is the first woman to lead the hospital in its 143-year history.

In a prior role at Boston Children’s Hospital, as chief operating officer, she developed a business plan that started with an $80 million operating loss and navigated to a position of financial strength. Under Fenwick’s leadership, Boston Children’s has worked with insurers to lower rates and reduce prices and thereby make healthcare more affordable for both employers and families. Her current strategy as CEO involves collaborating with clinicians to improve the effectiveness of care, working with insurers to lower costs, investing in translational and clinical research, and building connections with the community to improve outreach and accessibility.

In 2016, Sandra Fenwick oversaw the late stage planning and approval of a $1 billion expansion of Boston Children’s Hospital—an expansion which involved a new 11-story building, 71 additional hospital beds, and a new outpatient center. And more recently, she’s brought attention to the need for the management and interoperability of patient data across the continuum of care.

She holds a bachelor’s degree with distinction from Simmons College, and a master of public health degree in health services administration from the University of Texas. The recipient of numerous honorary degrees for her contribution to healthcare, she’s also received a series of awards; in 2006, she received a Champion in Healthcare award from the Boston Business Journal, and in 2007 she received the Pinnacle award from the Boston Chamber of Commerce.


Katherine Kuzmeskas is an entrepreneur, administrator, and innovator in healthcare. She is the CEO and co-founder of SimplyVital Health, a company that uses blockchain technology to facilitate the sharing of medical data seamlessly, reducing inefficiencies in record keeping and payment systems.

Fortune magazine named Kuzmeskas among the top leaders changing the healthcare. She founded SimplyVital Health in 2016 as a solution for problems she faced as a hospital administrator. Kuzmeskas previously served as program manager for the Center for Musculoskeletal Care at Yale New Haven Hospital, where she managed the joint replacement and spine bundled payment programs. She also acted as the hospital’s strategic planner for the medicine and surgery service lines, and oversaw development of an enterprise-wide care management dashboard for a state-wide community health center network. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Austin College, and her master’s in public health with a certificate in leadership from the University of Connecticut.

Kuzmeskas believes that as the healthcare industry moves from the fee-for-service model to one of value-based care, a transparent public ledger has the potential to reduce costs as well as improve patient outcomes. Since founding SimplyVital Health, she has spoken at numerous conferences and symposiums about the digital component of healthcare. While her work is in the early stages, it is garnering widespread attention, having been featured in Forbes, Fortune, and Coindesk. In an industry that is wasting $12 billion through poor communication between providers, Katherine Kuzmeskas is creating solutions for the future.


Dr. Raj Panjabi is a scholar, physician, and social entrepreneur. He received his master’s of public health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, his doctor of medicine from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed his clinical fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He is the CEO of Last Mile Health, an organization saves lives in the world’s most remote communities. He is also an assistant professor in the division of global health equity at Harvard Medical School.

His work in building rural and community health systems has led to awards as one of the 50 greatest leaders by Fortune magazine twice—once in 2015 and again in 2017. He was also honored as one of the most influential people in the world by Time magazine for which former President Bill Clinton interviewed him. He won a TED prize in 2017 for his plan for Last Mile Health delivering world-class healthcare to some of the most remote areas of the world.

Dr. Panjabi founded Last Mile Health in 2007 with a team of American health workers and Liberian civil war survivors on a $6,000 budget. The organization partners with governments to create national networks of community health workers that are trained and employed in their villages to deliver medicines and care to their neighbors. After the Ebola epidemic in 2014, Last Mile Health partnered with the Liberian government to train and equip over 4,000 community health workers and 400 healthcare supervisors in the region, with the intention of serving more than one million people in the most remote areas of the country. Dr. Panjabi’s work with Last Mile Health has led to multiple academic publications and studies, and his work was cited by the director-general of the World Health Organization as having rapid improvements for health outcomes. In 2015, Dr. Panjabi accepted the Clinton Global Citizen Award on behalf of Last Mile Health. In 2017, the Government of Liberia gave Dr. Panjabi one of its highest honors for his work in the country: the Distinction of Knight Commander in the Most Venerable Order of the Pioneers of the Republic of Liberia.


Dr. Peter Pronovost is a world-renowned critical care physician, patient safety champion, and global thought leader on health policy. He is currently senior vice president for clinical strategy at UnitedHealthcare. He was previously senior vice president and director at the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine, which he founded in 2011.

Dr. Pronovost received his doctor of medicine and his doctorate in clinical investigation from Johns Hopkins University. As a prolific researcher, he has published more 800 peer-reviewed papers and pushed his vision for patient safety further into the mainstream consciousness by giving talks for TEDx and other public forum audiences. On a regulatory level, he acts as an advisor to the World Health Organization’s World Alliance for Patient Safety, and regularly addresses the U.S. Congress on patient safety issues. He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2011.

Dr. Pronovost’s scientific work has primarily revolved around the development and implementation of checklists for physicians that decrease the occurrence of medical errors. One such checklist saved $100 million and 1,500 patient lives in an 18-month span in Michigan, according to The New Yorker. The system has since been implemented in states across the country. This innovation earned him a place on Time magazine‘s 100 most influential people in the world in 2008. He also became a MacArthur Fellow that year. In December 2017, Dr. Pronovost announced his move from Johns Hopkins to UnitedHealthcare—and in doing so, he has brought his passion and skills to a broader marketplace.


Bernard J. Tyson is chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals, known as Kaiser Permanente, one of America’s leading healthcare providers and not-for-profit health plans. With annual operating revenue of $73 billion, Kaiser Permanente serves 12 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. During his Kaiser Permanente career, Tyson has successfully managed all major aspects of the organization, serving in roles from hospital administrator to division president to president and chief operating officer. Under Tyson’s leadership, Kaiser Permanente continues to focus on providing access to high-quality and affordable healthcare and improving the health of its members and communities. Modern Healthcare has named him the most influential healthcare executive for four consecutive years. In April 2017, he was included on the TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world.

UPDATE (12/11/19): Tyson passed away on November 10, 2019.


In selecting top health administrators, considered all of the following criteria:

  • Leadership experience: All of the professionals on this list have held multiple leadership roles and transformed the way entire organizations, big and small, operate.
  • Communication and publication: Academic publication not only breaks new ground, but it also shares discoveries with the broader ecosystem and promotes innovation. Many of those in this list have published research in top peer-reviewed journals or presented to their findings directly with the public.
  • Institutional and peer recognition: No one is more capable of deeming what is changing the world of healthcare than those actively working within the field. Their peers and institutions have recognized the people on this list as leading professionals with ideas worthy of a wider audience.
  • Vision: Changing the world does not always mean following the rules or winning accolades. Therefore this list includes professionals who are forging new paths—even if they have not yet reached mainstream recognition.
  • Impact: Theory and practice serve an essential function in the healthcare world; however, nothing is as important as results. Those in this list not only have transformative ideas, but they also have use cases to back them up.
Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog

Matt Zbrog is a writer and researcher from Southern California. Since 2018, he’s written extensively about emerging issues in healthcare administration and public health, with a particular focus on progressive policies that empower communities and reduce health disparities. His work centers around detailed interviews with researchers, professors, and practitioners, as well as with subject matter experts from professional associations such as the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL) and the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHCA).