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Dr. Pooja Kumar

Senior PartnerPhiladelphia

Serves health systems on large-scale performance transformations and leads our work in US public health; global leader of the McKinsey Health Institute

A physician by training, Pooja has spent the last 15 years working with healthcare systems, medical groups, payers, states, and foundations to materially improve performance and outcomes. She leads McKinsey’s public health domain and work with academic health systems in the United States. She is also a global leader for the McKinsey Health Institute, a not-for-profit entity within the firm that aspires to catalyze action to add a collective 45 billion years of higher-quality life for all people around the world.

Pooja orchestrates multifunctional teams to deliver top- and bottom-line impact as well as tangible improvements in patient experience and access. She is a deep expert in multilever performance transformations across all clinical and nonclinical functions, including growth operations, supply chain, revenue cycle, and patient access as well as complex operational programs such as revamping public-health strategies, vaccine rollouts, and standing up new business units or programs.

Some examples of her work include the following:

  • leading performance turnarounds of more than 20 large health systems and medical schools, focused on both patient experience, cost efficiency, and revenue
  • leading over 25 growth strategies for national and regional health systems, including organic and inorganic growth, and consumer-focused service strategies
  • leading multiple efforts on determining risk and value-based payment strategies and capability roadmaps for health systems in markets experiencing payment reform
  • leading and providing expertise to teams working with more than 20 US states and jurisdictions on public health strategies and rolling out complex public health programs, including on COVID-19 response, aging and elderly care, children’s programs, and health equity
  • developing investment approach to bend the US healthcare cost curve for a major philanthropic foundation

She sits on the board of directors of Last Mile Health, a leading not-for-profit focused on expanding the community-health-worker model to the more than one billion people worldwide who lack access to healthcare because of distance. Prior to McKinsey, Pooja worked extensively in refugee health across Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Published work

How to achieve great health for all? Start in your city.” McKinsey Health Institute, February 2024

‘We need to invest in health workers between major pandemics—not just when we have a pandemic’,” McKinsey Health Institute, January 2024

Pandemic lessons learned: ‘We need to be more equitable, effective, and efficient’,” McKinsey & Company, December 2023

The end of the COVID-19 public health emergency: What’s next?,” McKinsey & Company, May 2023

Building more resilient and equitable US public health systems,” McKinsey & Company, April 2023

Speaking to hearts and minds in healthcare,” McKinsey & Company, February 2023

The gathering storm: The affordability challenge of endemic COVID-19,” McKinsey & Company, September 2022

Tracking public-health outcomes across the United States,” McKinsey & Company, September 2022

Care for the caretakers: Building the global public health workforce,” McKinsey & Company, July 2022

Aging reframed: Seeing aging as an opportunity in healthcare,” McKinsey & Company, March 2022

Building the US public-health workforce of the future,” McKinsey & Company, February 2022

A light at the end of the tunnel: US COVID-19 vaccine administration,” McKinsey & Company, April 2021

The risks and challenges of the global COVID-19-vaccine rollout,” McKinsey & Company, January 2021

Rebuilding clinician mental health and well-being after COVID-19,” McKinsey & Company, December 2020

The future of payments is frictionless—now more than ever,” McKinsey & Company, November 2020

Walking out of the hospital: The continued rise of ambulatory care and how to take advantage of it,” McKinsey & Company, September 2020

Shifting focus to a comprehensive COVID-19-monitoring infrastructure,” McKinsey & Company, August 2020

Women in healthcare: Moving from the front lines to the top rung,” McKinsey & Company, August 2020

Rethinking health priorities: A conversation with Vivek Murthy,” McKinsey & Company, July 2020

Avoiding a ‘social recession’: A conversation with Vivek Murthy,” McKinsey & Company, June 2020

Major challenges remain in COVID-19 testing,” McKinsey & Company, April 2020

Critical care capacity: The number to watch during the battle of COVID-19,” McKinsey & Company, March 2020

‘Test and listen’: Microsoft’s Jim Weinstein on healthcare tech,” McKinsey & Company, January 2020

Picking winning strategies to improve healthcare productivity: An interview with Dr. Jim Weinstein,” McKinsey & Company, January 2020

Getting the right care to the right people at the right cost: An interview with Ron Walls,” McKinsey & Company, November 2019

“The role of academic-based health systems: An interview with Catherine Jacobsen and Thomas Zenty,” McKinsey & Company, October 2019

The Hospital is dead, long live the hospital!,” McKinsey & Company, May 2019

The productivity imperative for healthcare delivery in the United States,” McKinsey & Company, February 2019 

Past experience

Partners HealthCare
Resident physician

International Rescue Committee
Refugee health fellow


Harvard Medical School, Harvard University

Magdalen College, University of Oxford
MS, economics and social history

Duke University
BA, health policy