Laurie McGraw is speaking with Inspiring Woman Dr. Kim McKay, practicing physician, chief medical officer of PeriGen and clinical vice president of the OB/GYN service line at Avera Health in South Dakota. Dr. McKay’s life work has been focused on improving the health of moms and babies, as a practicing physician in a rural area, a health system leader and now, a leader at an innovative technology solutions company.
Maternal health outcomes in the U.S. are extremely poor when compared to other industrialized nations. Dr. McKay speaks to the why – wide ranging issues such as gaps in care and coverage; access to early pre-natal care; biases in medicine (a mother experiencing tachycardia may be told they are “just being anxious” when there can often be an underlying medical condition); disparities in treatment.
Solutions for improving outcomes with maternal health that show promise today include reaching into and really understanding the needs at a community level – e.g. providing community health workers, providing wrap around services like transportation and family care but also having those services speak to each other. She also points to technology improvements and finding the levers in the workflows – making it easier for providers to use technology as having great potential.
But make no mistake – larger policy issues and payment reforms are needed. Dr. McKay views maternal health as the ultimate population health and she never wants to hear again that maternity care is a lost leader.
Hear Dr. McKay talk about:
- Love of science which began when she won the state science fair in 8th grade (ask her about chickens!!).
- Winding journey to medicine. Thinking pediatrics would be her calling but kids don’t talk and parents can be…well…intense. She credits an important mentor, Dr. Burnett, who gave her the confidence to change course by pulling her aside and telling her that she had “good hands”. There were not many women in surgical subspecialties then and his words at that point in time made a major impression on her.
- Physician burn out: COVID was rough and having to fight for PPE was a moral injury. She has put great focus on what gives her energy which includes: helping solve problems for physicians; mentoring other women or physicians moving into leadership positions; and her family. She had to learn to put FOMO (the fear of missing out) aside to ensure she was making time for them.
Dr. McKay’s closing advice to younger women is to just say yes. Some of her greatest professional opportunities have come from going to those meetings that she otherwise thought twice about attending. Treating them as opportunities has been important for her career growth and impact.
Dr. Kimberlee McKay, PeriGen Chief Medical Officer
An innovative specialist in the field of obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. McKay brings over 20 years of experience to the PeriGen team. In addition to her role at PeriGen, Dr. McKay currently serves as the Clinical Vice President OB/GYN Service Line at Avera Health and has held an adjunct position at the University of South Dakota, where she also earned her degree. Dr. McKay adds to the PeriGen team a hands-on experience that support the initiatives of PeriGen as an organization. Her extensive expertise in patient safety and quality, healthcare equity, rural maternity care, and remote patient monitoring are critical to the continued innovation of PeriGen solutions. She is a long time advocate and user of PeriGen solutions and her position is critical to PeriGen’s continued commitment to remote patient monitoring, physician engagement, and emerging primary care opportunities.
You can follow Dr. McKay on LinkedIn.