Women in Medicine: Dr. Min Tao, Ph.D., MD
Dr. Min Tao, Ph.D., MD, has come a long way, both geographically and professionally, from her early days in a bustling, crowded city in China. Her path in healthcare has taken many twists and turns, but her focus on patient care and equity has never wavered.
Min began her career in healthcare at an early age when she followed in her family’s footsteps by entering medical school. Much of Min’s family had studied medicine, including her grandparents who were neurosurgeons, and her mother who is a nurse. “In China, students can enter medical school after graduating from high school. It was my family’s expectation that I become a doctor, but I wasn’t so sure,” said Min.
Following her family’s wishes, Min earned her medical degree in endocrinology in China. Eventually, however, Min’s passion for public health and patient quality of life led her to the United States and Cornell University where she earned her Ph.D. in Philosophy, Nutrition Epidemiology, and Public Health Policy. Min says, “I attended medical school but discovered that supporting medical practices, particularly ACOs through analytics was dear to my heart.”
Min made her first entrance into the public health arena when she joined the CDC, National Center for Health Statistics, working on national health surgery data.
That experience led Min to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), where she served as director for their clinical epidemiology and biostatistics teams. There, her work included population health management analytics. Tao also has worked for the Michigan Department of Community Health and Michigan State University, as well as performing a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control with the National Center for Health Statistics.
Min not only has a gift for gathering data, but she also has the unique ability to translate that data into improved patient and payer outcomes. According to Min,
Her holistic approach to statistical data improves not only patient outcomes, but also outcomes for physicians and payers as well. In fact, she credits her “rich multi–payer experiences” at CMS for providing the foundational expertise that has contributed to her ongoing success.
After a decade at BCBSM, Min was ready for her next venture and joined a California start-up with the goal of helping community health systems use value-based care to achieve optimal outcomes. This experience cemented her passion for using analytics expertise to help clinicians and facilities through their transformational journey toward value-based care. It also expanded her belief in inclusivity, since at that time, small rural practices were excluded from CMS incentives due to their limited size. Min’s expert analytics helped the organization instigate changes that led to the first virtual rural ACO and inclusion in the CMS sharing program. Min states,
“Rural doctors should never be excluded from the transformational journey based on the size of their practice.”
Not one to sit still, Min began looking for an exciting new opportunity to make additional meaningful contributions and found it at Medical Advantage. As Director of Analytics, Min now leads teams that provide actionable analytics to help payers and providers improve patient outcomes and reduce overall costs. Min states,
In this new role, Min’s first major project was to work with field teams to improve reporting and fulfill ad hoc requests for legacy clients. Those early wins led to Min’s next major project, where she provided client analytics for multiple initiatives, including pay-for-performance incentives. She also took a dive into practice marketing, using her analytical skills to help practices understand competitors and strategize expansion opportunities.
Today, Min’s passion for ACOs consistently yields impressive shared savings payments for Medical Advantage’s ACO clients. In fact, under Min’s leadership her teams helped PMC ACO in Flint, MI, receive a shared savings payment of approximately $1.6 million from CMS for each of the last three consecutive years.
Clearly, Min brings a truly unique scope of knowledge to her role as Director of Analytics at Medical Advantage. Looking back on her impressive career, Min credits mentors who have inspired her over the years. She says, “I’m from a generation in China where women were not meant to be heard. I am inspired by outspoken women in healthcare who have a vision and won’t take no for an answer.”
She also looks up to leaders who are visionary and believe in transformation. Min adds that successful independent practitioners also inspire awe.
When Min is not diving into analytics, she often can be found kayaking on the Huron River in Ann Arbor, MI. Min says that kayaking provides relaxation, which she can certainly use, since her free time is spent fostering stray cats and keeping up with her two active boys.