Anthem Blue Cross' Liz Kwo is scaling digital products to improve outcomes

Liz Kwo, MD

Liz Kwo, MD, staff vice president of clinical data analytics, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield

Age: 39

Education: After graduating from Stanford University, Kwo went on to earn medical, business and public health degrees from Harvard. She is board certified in preventive care and occupational medicine.

About her: It was her own personal experience — suffering a stillbirth in 2014 — and the hardship she found finding the right care that pushed Liz Kwo, M.D., to found telehealth company InfinityMD. She served as CEO until she sold the business in July to Consumer Medical. She joined Anthem Blue Cross as the staff vice president of clinical data analytics. She is responsible for acquiring and utilizing clinical data to and implementing solutions that ultimately automate workflows, improves care and drives down cost of care. She manages $350 million in cost of care savings.

She oversees a team of more than 70 Anthem employees working on integrating claims, medical records and other types of data to reduce medical costs and improve clinical care through digital solutions for Anthem's 45 million members.

This past year at Anthem, she also created several immediate COVID responses to support testing, aggregating geographical data, and creating care teams.

She championed covering telehealth for all members by waiving co-pays and setting up an immediate telehealth network to increase the supply of doctors.

Beyond Anthem, Kwo is a practicing physician in urgent and occupational medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance, an HMS teaching hospital, and a lecturer in the Harvard-MIT HST Program. She recently joined the board of Flexion Therapeutics, bringing down the average age of the board by 20 years and becoming the second female on a board of 10. She remains on the board of InfiniteMD. She is an active angel investor in healthcare with an interest in technology-enabled healthcare delivery. She founded multiple venture-backed companies in educational technology including New Pathway, which was acquired by CVC private equity in 2014.

She mentors female leaders and said she works hard to be a role model to her three children under the age at five, she said.

First job: She was a cashier at the University of California San Francisco bookstore at age 16. This is where she discovered that she wanted to become a doctor, she said.

Proudest accomplishment: Being a mother and raising three children. “I'm eager to set an example for my children that their mother can start healthcare companies and work as a healthcare executive to improve patient lives, but also be present with them at home.”

Problem she’s most passionate about trying to solve: “I want to provide patients the opportunity to engage healthcare services through a spectrum of care — digital, virtual, then physical/in-person. My dream is to have patients engage with technology, like chat bots, to get information about their situation, engage in virtual care if needed (video visit, texting a doctor, etc.), and select in-person/physical care when appropriate," Kwo said. "I want to create a digital-first, human-centered approach to our work and connecting with patients when they want and how they want, putting them at the center of everything we do.”

Book she most recommends to other healthcare leaders: Innovators Prescription by her late business school professor Clayton Christensen.

Advice she’d give her younger self: “Even if in those moments we may feel like the world is going to end, it’s important to assess our situation, to learn something from it, to pull ourselves back up and to keep moving forward. I have learned in my personal life the power of resilience.” She also offered four life tips, including: 

  • Make connections: Good relationships with close family and friends are very important.
  • Embrace change as a natural part of life: Certain trajectories or goals that you have set up for your life may need to be adjusted as a result of challenges or adverse situations.
  • Don’t see hardships as insurmountable obstacles: You can't change the fact that crisis, challenges and hardships will affect your life. What you can change is how you interpret and respond to these events.
  • Discover yourself: During hard times, you can discover inside yourself strengths you never thought you had, abilities that have never been revealed to you before, stamina, will-power and determination.

What she would do with her career if it wasn’t this: "Be a barefoot doctor traveling the world and delivering care."

Advice she would offer to healthcare leaders seeking to make a real impact on systemic problems of racism in light of the ongoing national conversation: "Build a mission-driven organization that is anchored on personal values and strives to deliver care to the under-served communities," Kwo said. "In addition, donate to charities, speak out for what you believe in, and don't turn away from recognizing your own biases so we open a dialogue about the change we want to see."

Anthem Blue Cross' Liz Kwo is scaling digital products to improve outcomes