Medscape at 25: Recognizing Medicine's Rising Stars

Becky Lang


December 07, 2020

Harry Cho, MD, is the first chief value officer for New York City Health and Hospitals, the largest public health system in the country. His position involves streamlining care and eliminating unnecessary tests and treatments, and his administrative research has been widely cited. He has won the Society of Hospital Medicine Award of Excellence for Clinical Leadership for Physicians and the American Medical Association's Excellence in Medicine Leadership Award.

When he started as the first chief value officer for New York City Health and Hospitals 2 years ago, Hyung (Harry) Cho, MD, immediately had his hands full. His charge: streamline care and eliminate unnecessary testing and treatments for patients in the United States' largest public health system.

And then COVID-19 hit New York. Between staff, agency personnel, and others in New York City's public health system of 11 hospitals, Cho estimates that fighting the pandemic in the spring involved 20,000 people. And he doesn't want to be caught off-guard by a future wave.

"So that's what we're prepping for right now," he says.

Cho, who finished his internal medicine residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital in 2011, focuses on reducing harm and increasing efficiency — for both patients and healthcare workers.

Before COVID-19, his attention was on potential patient harm from too much testing and unnecessary treatment.

"Our patients don't have a lot of means. A lot of them don't have a home, or insurance, so any extra thing we do that's not needed...tends to be more harmful than it would be in other places," Cho says. That extra antibiotic prescription or additional visit to their provider means trying to secure transportation or take time off from work, which is often quite difficult.

Now, with COVID-19 spread as a concern, any unnecessary treatments for patients can also directly affect healthcare workers.

"Every time someone goes into a room, such as for a test, if it's unnecessary, it's a potential exposure," he says. "Like the rest of the country, we have lost some of our own staff to this."

Under Cho's leadership, the hospital and health system recently stopped giving stool softener to hospitalized patients. They would previously give the medication three times a day, but Cho says many randomized trials have shown stool softeners have no effect on constipation. In the era of COVID-19, that will mean fewer trips a healthcare worker must make to a patient's bedside.

"Something as simple as that became much more important," Cho says.

As part of Medscape's celebration of our 25th anniversary this year, we're recognizing 25 young physicians who are rising stars in medicine, poised to become future leaders of their fields. View the full list here.


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