Three questions with Sandeep Wadhwa, MD

Jan. 11, 2021 / By Sandeep Wadhwa, MD, MBA, Kelli Christman

Kelli sat down with 3M Health Information Systems Global Chief Medical Officer Sandeep Wadhwa, MD, MBA, to look at what’s coming in 2021 and how 2020 still managed to shine a light on some goodness in the world.  

Welcome to Inside Angle! Tell us a little about your background and the journey that led you to 3M.

My home life led to an early interest in health care. My father had a heart attack in his 20s and my mother had steroid dependent asthma. They both struggled with making healthy choices despite being highly educated and motivated. If it was hard for them, it made me wonder about others who had more challenges, like poverty, language barriers, age, race or other factors.

My direction in medicine was further honed during a summer I spent in the epidemiology department at Case Western Reserve University where I was introduced to the science of population health. It struck me that our country’s vast resources, research and educational assets could be rebalanced to achieve better health outcomes. Ever since, I’ve been focused on the intersection of health care delivery, financing health care and health outcomes—particularly for underserved populations.

I’ve had a wide range of experience at the federal, state and local government levels in policy and executive roles as well as in corporate, academic and non-profit settings to affordably advance population health. I am super excited to be back at 3M HIS!

3M HIS plays a vital role in the U.S. and across the globe in supporting payers and providers in the equitable design of payment, quality and health outcome systems. As public and private payers seek to efficiently incent improvements in health status and address inequalities, I see a crucial role that 3M HIS can play in guiding payers and providers toward those goals with solutions that are transparent, rigorous, continually improving and outcomes oriented. I’m thrilled to play a role in that effort as the global chief medical officer.

After a challenging 2020, what’s on the horizon for 3M HIS clients and, more broadly, the health care industry?

I really hope that 2021 is predominately a recovery year versus a disruption year. Two areas of focus I see for our clients and for the industry are: first, we need to better organize ourselves to meet the needs of impacted vulnerable populations and secondly, we should further configure our delivery systems to meet patients at home.

Health disparities existed long before COVID-19, but the disproportionate impact on people who are institutionalized, economically disadvantaged, have chronic conditions, or are racial minorities, call us to put the underserved first as we think about our 2021 priorities.

On providing more health care at home, we have all adapted to being homebound. While confining, I think there are aspects of being at home that we will want to continue to support in terms of the experience of health care. How these services are financed, delivered and quality controlled in the setting of a (hopefully) resolved pandemic, will be another major theme of 2021.

2020 was a hard year, but there were so many glimmers of hopefulness and kindness across the world. What’s the most inspiring story you saw in 2020?

Here in Colorado, as well as across the globe, for two or three months during the first severe phase of the pandemic, there was a nightly celebration at 8 p.m. to acknowledge and support our health care workers and first responders. I found it very inspiring to recognize, in a joyful way, our colleagues who were taking on tremendous risk and going above the call of duty to serve others. I also loved the way the singing, howling, yelling and applauding brought people together across ages, genders, races and classes in common gratitude for others while strengthening the bonds that connect us all.

Sandeep Wadhwa, MD, MBA, is Global Chief Medical Officer at 3M Health Information Systems.

Kelli Christman is senior marketing communications and strategic communications specialist at 3M Health Information Systems.