Passing the Baton: Announcing a Leadership Transition at the Center for Care Innovations

Veenu Aulakh
Outgoing CCI President

Back in January, I announced that I was stepping down as president to create space for a new leader who could bring fresh energy and ideas to support the Center for Care Innovations as it continues to grow. Little did I know how much the world — not just health care —would change in the following months. COVID-19 upended all of our plans, including the timing for this leadership transition.

Now it’s time to pass the baton. I am very excited to officially welcome CCI’s new president, Sofi Bergkvist. I feel very confident and excited about CCI’s future with Sofi as the lead, and I’m looking forward to the day when many of you can meet her. Sofi’s experience with growing and scaling an organization, similar to CCI in Asia, will bring new insights and perspectives that CCI needs at this juncture.

Current events have also made me to rethink my own next move. As many of you know, I have been working on virtual care for more than 15 years. It started back when we were still trying to prove that telehealth could be a viable way to deliver care and remote monitoring was an abstract concept that seemed out of reach to most providers and patients. It’s been my passion — even as the work has slowly inched forward for almost two decades. But suddenly, during the past six months, virtual care has taken off in a way that I never imagined. And it is honestly very exciting.

The pandemic has forced us to rethink our models for delivering care. To better support patients in their homes with limited in-person contact, we’re witnessing innovative leaps in remote monitoring devices and home diagnostics. By removing the traditional regulatory and payment barriers, the opportunities and possibilities for virtual care seem endless right now, and I want to contribute to this critical shift in supporting patients to receive the care they want and need.

I am excited to play a new role at CCI as a Senior Innovation Fellow, guiding both our strategy and program teams. We are at a critical point in time, and it is important that we ensure that low-income and under-invested communities continue to have access to high-quality health care and aren’t left behind in this new era of virtual care. If we don’t develop models for the future and break down the digital barriers that are preventing patients from accessing care, we risk further exacerbating disparities and inequities in our communities.

When I started working at CCI in 2011, we had the same acronym but a different name — the “Community Clinics Initiative.” Our team of six people and single funding partner were focused on patient-centered medical homes. Fast forward to today, we have grown to a staff of 23 (plus two current job openings!) with 12 funding partners. Our work spans trauma-informed care, addiction treatment, digital technology solutions, the social determinants of health, and so much more.

I’m thankful that I can continue to work with the CCI community and start a new role that channels my drive to leverage technology, innovative mindsets, and design and improvement methods to build the health care system that everyone deserves. So please keep reaching out and connecting, as I’m looking forward to a new way of working with you.

Thank you all for your kind words and support over the last nine years. It has been a real privilege to do this work with you. I look forward to the next adventure.


September 2020

Sofi Bergkvist
Incoming CCI President

I am Sofi Bergkvist, and today is my first day as CCI’s new president. I could not be more excited to start this new adventure. I prepared a short video, so you can get to know a little about me personally.

Before taking this job, I built ACCESS Health International, a think tank dedicated to transforming health systems in India, Singapore, China, and the Philippines. It was an amazing journey, and I was lucky to spend a decade in a region that has experienced such growth and rapid change.

For some of you, this isn’t the first time we meet. I joined the CCI team as a Senior Fellow back in May to start learning about the organization’s work. I’ve been listening to the staff, talking to our partners, and exploring opportunities for CCI to deepen our impact. I learned that our partners truly value CCI’s work. I also learned that many health care providers want us to do more and want us to convene broader groups, including health plans and payers, to accelerate the adoption of innovations. This is something CCI has done in Colorado, and I look forward to exploring how we can expand on that.

There are two things that are on my mind right now:

The first is that out of crises can emerge new and tremendous opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the flaws in our health care system. But, in doing so, it has also ushered in an extraordinary pace of change. Over the past six months, we’ve witnessed a strengthening appetite for innovation among health care providers, payers, and policymakers. This started with a rapid expansion of phone and video consultations and now continues with growth in remote monitoring.

Many things will fail. It’s inevitable. But we must fail fast, learn, share, and improve together. We cannot afford to return to business as usual. As we push forward, we must work to make health care closer to the patients’ homes, easier to navigate, and better aligned with patients’ aspirations. Virtual care has incredible potential to improve outcomes, expand access to care, and reduce costs, and already we’re seeing progress, such as major reductions in no-show rates.

I am so grateful that Veenu has decided to take CCI’s strategy for innovation and technology forward, now in the role as our Senior Innovation Fellow. It’s a position in which her passion and innovative mindset will shine, and CCI’s innovation and technology work will assuredly benefit from her focus and strategy. Veenu has worked hard on virtual care for more than a decade, and we finally see how the system is accepting this approach at broad scale. I am very excited to continue to work closely with Veenu as we seize this tremendous opportunity with virtual care.

The second is that this must be the turning point for improved health equity across the country.

We have seen that the COVID-19 pandemic, like wildfires and hurricanes, hit people of color and low-income communities the hardest. My hope is that this crisis will finally prompt meaningful action to fix the health inequities that are unjustly devastating the lives of so many. I want this time to go to history as a turning point for America — a time in which innovation will aid historically underinvested communities in realizing their full health potential.

I was born and raised in Sweden, and I am convinced that a more equitable society is critical to achieve a higher level of well-being. That means that everyone is supported to thrive. I still have a lot to learn about the systems here in the US. But one thing is clear: systemic racism is a public health crisis and we all must work to eliminate it.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and work together. I want to get to know you all better, so we can start collaborating. I am convinced that innovation drives progress, and progress motivates me. I love the thought of now being able to work with so many committed partners. I am proud to be part of CCI, where historically underinvested communities are, and will continue to be, the focus of our organization.


September 2020

Meet Our New President