Providence's Amy Compton-Phillips led the early charge against COVID-19

Amy Compton-Phillips

Amy Compton-Phillips, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Providence

Age: 56

Education: She holds a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and a medical degree from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

About her: The COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. started in Amy Compton-Phillips's backyard.

In mid-January, Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer for Providence, was first alerted that a patient with COVID-19 — the first known case in the nation — had shown up at one of the health system's urgent care centers. Soon, it was spreading throughout the greater Seattle region and Compton-Phillips was leading the charge to fight the virus. 

Her team was the first to use remdesivir to treat patients suffering from the novel coronavirus. They were also focused on quickly expanding telehealth technology early and saw a jump from roughly 67,000 virtual visits in 2019 to more than 560,000 visits in the first eight months of 2020. When the epicenter of the pandemic shifted to the East Coast, Providence provided telemonitoring support to Northwell Health in New York as COVID cases overwhelmed their system.

“My team created telehealth and telemonitoring platforms that proved vital to saving lives when the pandemic hit," she said. "At a time when people were flooding emergency departments and exposing others to the virus along the way, Providence was able to help people assess their symptoms and engage with a provider and receive expert care from the comfort and safety of their homes.”

She spearheaded the 100 Million Mask Challenge in which Providence began manufacturing its own personal protective equipment (PPE) when global supplies began to run out, teaming with Nordstrom, Kaas Tailored and Alaska Airlines to get PPE to frontline workers. And she raced to fight misinformation about the virus and in March, began serving as a CNN medical analyst, appearing on broadcasts with Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo and the network’s news anchors several times per week. She spoke to media outlets around the country, including CNBC, MSNBC, The New York Times and the Washington Post, and appeared in virtual events. 

Compton-Phillips is a national expert on developing innovative care through clinical research, advancing access to care through technology, creating highly reliable care processes, redesigning systems, and building the healthcare workforce of the future. To address the mental health needs of Providence’s 120,000 employees, Compton-Phillips’ team created the Behavioral Health Concierge program, a same- or next-day consultation service aimed at giving Providence caregivers free access to licensed mental health professionals.

First job: McDonalds. “I got promoted to be the Ronald McDonald clown at kids’ birthday parties, so I can make a mean balloon animal!” Her first healthcare job was straight out of residency and working for Kaiser Permanente as a primary care doctor.

“At that time, I had never seen an ear infection before, but I could put a chest tube in anybody. Being out of the office of school was so different in primary care. I learned how to manage and practice at the same time thanks to my amazing colleagues.”

Accomplishment she’s most proud of: Her work with improving maternal mortality rates in the U.S. Providence has dramatically changed the course for moms and babies by nearly eliminating preventable maternal deaths (one death in the last three years) compared to the national average of every 17.4 mothers dying out of every 100,000 US births.

“This is remarkable, given that we deliver 72,000 babies annually across our 51 hospitals in seven states. But even one such death is unacceptable, so Providence is driven to have zero preventable maternal deaths year in and year out. No mom should ever die for reasons that are within the U.S. health system’s ability to control.”

Problem she’s most passionate about trying to solve: Great healthcare shouldn’t be tied to your ability to pay for it.”

Book she recommends to other healthcare leaders: Factfulness by Hans Rosling—a book about hope.

“With everything going on in the world, we must remember that things are better than they were. Look at the data and familiarize yourself with what was and is going on. We have fewer people in poverty, we have better healthcare, and in general, things are better than they were.”

Advice she would give her younger self: The ability to make a difference and do good exists everywhere. So, don’t wait, act today.

Her career if it wasn’t this: If she were not working on fixing the healthcare system from within, she’d be fighting for better and more affordable healthcare elsewhere or  seeking other opportunities to improve the world for the next generation.

Advice she would offer to healthcare leaders seeking make a real impact on systemic problems of racism: “We have a natural fear of admitting we’re imperfect, but I think people in the communities that bear the brunt of systemic racism respect the courage it takes to say that we aren’t there yet. As leaders and healers, we must recognize that work needs to be done to reverse centuries of institutionalized racism, including right here in the healthcare industry. We are part of the problems that have led to health inequities and we will be a part of the solutions.”

Providence's Amy Compton-Phillips led the early charge against COVID-19