Chutes & Ladders—UnitedHealthcare recruits from within for new CEO; Kaiser Permanente names permanent tech chief

Welcome to this week’s Chutes & Ladders, our roundup of hirings, firings and retirings throughout the industry. Please submit the good news—or the bad—from your shop, and we will feature it here at the end of each week.


Brian Thompson was promoted to CEO of UnitedHealthcare, healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group announced Wednesday. Thompson most recently served as chief of UnitedHealthcare’s government business, including Medicare and Medicaid plans.

A key focus for Thompson, the company said, will be continuing to drive growth across UnitedHealthcare, which is the nation’s largest insurer.

Thompson has held a number of roles at UnitedHealth Group since joining the company in April 2004.

UnitedHealthcare’s CEO role was previously held by Dirk McMahon, who moved into the position of president and chief operating officer of UnitedHealth Group earlier this year.

UHG CEO David Wichmann announced his plans to retire in March, with Andrew Witty as a successor. Witty previously served as the CEO of Optum and was a rising star within the company.

 Kaiser Permanente 

Diane Comer was named Kaiser Permanente’s new chief information technology officer after serving as interim chief information officer since June 2020.  

She will report directly to Kaiser Permamente CEO Greg Adams. In the role, she will lead Kaiser Permanente’s focus on strategic initiatives that improve the employee and consumer experience and on continuing the organization’s efforts to deliver advanced, digitally enabled tools to transform healthcare, officials said in a statement.

Since serving as interim CIO, Comer led Kaiser Permanente’s ongoing IT support to meet the extraordinary needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic while also overseeing the delivery of a large portfolio of IT projects. Comer formerly held positions at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, including chief technology officer, with dual reporting to the CIO and CEO.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Additionally, Comer has attended executive leadership programs at the Wharton School and Harvard University. She is a 2012 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders Award winner.

Abacus Insight

Navdeep Alam was named chief technology officer for Abacus Insights, a data integration and interoperability platform that enables health plans and their providers to create a more personalized healthcare experience for consumers.

Navdeep Alam
(Abacus Insights)

Alam was previously senior director of global data warehouse, systems development and security at IQVIA.

As CTO, Alam will oversee the technical development of the Abacus platform, including the ability to further scale the architecture, data management, interoperability, analytics and secure cloud computing, officials said in a statement. 

He brings more than 20 years of experience building large data repositories, including extensive experience building next-gen cloud analytical systems for healthcare, telecommunications and social media enterprises, officials said in a statement.

Alam has also held senior roles at Empirix and Mzinga scaling data platforms and leading development of predictive analytics solutions.

Banner Health

Becky Kuhn, chief operating officer of Banner Health, announced her plans to retire in October. 

Kuhn has been with Banner Health System for nearly 20 years. 

Banner has held several key leadership roles including her current role as system COO since 2017. She has also served as executive VP of Banner’s Arizona East Region, as CEO of Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center and as CEO of the former Banner Mesa Medical Center. She was the inaugural CEO of Banner Gateway Medical Center when it opened in 2007. 

Banner Health engaged Heidrick & Struggles to conduct a national search to fill the role of system COO.

Massachusetts General Hospital

Peter Slavin, M.D., the longtime Massachusetts General Hospital president, announced plans to step down after more than 18 years in the role. 

Under Slavin’s leadership, the hospital’s total revenue nearly tripled to $5.5 billion and annual fundraising grew from $72 million to $390 million. In the same time, its total number of employees jumped from about 15,000 to more than 27,000. Its research budget more than doubled from $400 million to $1 billion. 

Notable projects during his tenure have included the addition of the Yawkey Building in 2004, the Lunder Building in 2011 and the Russell Museum in 2012. Peter welcomed Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket Cottage, Cooley Dickinson and Wentworth-Douglass hospitals to Mass General. In 2009, Mass General established the Ragon Institute aimed at finding vaccines for diseases of the immune system, particularly HIV/AIDS. The Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies was launched in 2012 aimed at finding new cancer therapies, and the 18-bed Translational and Clinical Research Center opened in 2016 to test treatments for a range of adult and pediatric disorders. In 2018, the Sean M. Healey and AMG Center for ALS was established.

In 2019, Massachusetts General announce plans to construct a $1 billion, 12-story hospital building on its Boston campus by 2026.

Anne Klibanski, M.D., who is president and CEO of Mass General Brigham, confirmed Slavin will stay on until a successor is placed. Klibanski said the search process will be aligned with the Mass General Brigham United Against Racism priority and include a diverse search committee and a slate of candidates for consideration.

Aetna announced Kristen Miranda has been named senior vice president of markets and will report to Dan Finke, executive vice president of CVS Health and president of healthcare benefits.

> ConcertoCare, a risk-bearing senior care provider, announced Nevada Griffin has been named chief growth officer. 

> TigerConnect, a team collaboration solution for healthcare, appointed former Tenet Healthcare CEO Trevor Fetter to its board of directors.

Novant Health has named Erik Helms as the new senior vice president and chief payer performance officer.

Owlet Baby Care Inc. announced the appointment of Zane Burke, former CEO of Livongo, to its board of directors.

Hackensack Meridian Health announced it named Linda A. McHugh chief experience and people officer.