The Importance of Providing Guidance for Businesses Through the CMO Role

April 7, 2021
Briana Contreras

In this second video of a two-part video series, MHE spoke with Dr. Ami Parekh, chief medical officer of Grand Rounds. Ami discussed the rise of the chief medical officer role, how businesses can benefit from it and what it means for the future of the C-suite. She also explained why it is so essential for businesses to provide advice and clinical guidance to help best keep operations running safely.

Below is an excerpt Q&A of the interview with Ami:

Q: Can you share what the rise of the chief medical officer role has been in the C-suite?

A: So most healthcare companies already had chief medical officers. If you think about their role, it's really to inform the operations or the strategy for the healthcare company to grow in whatever space it was in. But with COVID, every chief medical officer in the country suddenly also had to become an epidemiologist, a workplace safety expert, and really inform the business strategy for the company.

While we always knew where you work and how you worked affected your health, and your health affected how you show up to work, I think the pandemic really shone a light on that. For the first time, it was explicitly clear that if you weren't taking care of employees and their dependents safety and health, you weren't going to be able to meet your business objectives. Similarly, people expected to hear from their employers about their health and safety and workplace safety.

So the role of the chief medical officer, specifically, really shifted from being focused on the goals of the healthcare organization to becoming a business strategy role of "How do we stay open?" "How do we keep our employees safe?" How do we get them back to work now?" "How do we think about vaccinations?" All of these questions that are integral to our economy getting back on track, became part of the role of the chief medical officer.

Q: How can businesses benefit from the CMO role and what does this role mean for the future of the C-suite?

A: One of the great things we've been able to do at Grand Rounds, because we have so many strong clinicians on our team here, is actually offer virtual chief medical officer roles for some of our customers. These are customers who didn't have a chief medical officer prior because they're probably not in the healthcare space, but realized how critical that insight that clinical expertise would be for their business strategy.

We were able to talk to their C-suite about how we should think about thresholds for sending people to work from home, how we should think about the prevalence in the community in which we operate. How should we think about behavioral health these days when so many people are struggling with anxiety and depression at record levels?

What we've noticed is for companies who aren't in healthcare naturally, but who needed that sort of insight in their C-suite, is this virtual CMO was one way for us to help them think through all the implications of the pandemic for their populations.