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VSSL Voices: Experience of a VSSL Fellow

In this installment of our “VSSL Voices” series, we heard from Dr. Catherine Hwang, an internal medicine resident at Virginia Mason Medical Center and current VSSL Fellow.

VSSL Voices: How did you first get interested in health systems and/or care delivery work?

Catherine Hwang: Living and working in developing countries with limited resources in Latin America and Asia highlighted the challenges of navigating a fragmented health system. I saw how structural problems and poor medical infrastructure compromised access to care in a community with only a single community health worker. These challenges were additionally compounded by a lack of health education and disease prevention, causing many to suffer unnecessarily. My experiences motivated me to pursue further training at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health to learn how to solidify delivery of care, strengthen health systems, and address actual determinants of health through effective policy and public health interventions.

"VSSL has provided a valuable outlet to enrich my appreciation for health systems and care delivery."

VV: What things have you experienced in your training thus far (we would suggest focusing on residency, but feel free to incorporate other training experiences) that have either underscored or further developed your interests in health systems and/or care delivery work?

CH: My work with VSSL as a medical student and resident physician has deepened my interest in learning how to optimize health systems and care delivery to achieve improved health outcomes. I have enjoyed working with VSSL investigators to examine the degree to which Medicare transitional and chronic care management fee-for-service billing codes can serve as bridges to help organizations transition from volume to value-based health care payment models. In addition, I look forward to evaluating strategies for defining and reimbursing for episodes of care for chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

VV: What are up to 2-3 of the main things you hope to gain, or are gaining, out of your work with VSSL?

CH: VSSL has provided a valuable outlet to enrich my appreciation for health systems and care delivery. Through working with VSSL, I hope to strengthen my ability to think critically about the impact of value-based payment models on health outcomes, identify challenges in implementing evidence-based alternative payment models in the current United States health care environment, and formulate solutions to overcome these challenges.

VV: Look forward. In 5-7 years, what elements of health systems and care delivery work would you want to be incorporated into your job?

CH: I hope to join a health care team that values continuous quality improvement, where I can contribute meaningfully to patient care, advance care delivery within the organization, and mentor the next generation of physicians and physician-scientists. I also hope to collaborate with researchers and thought leaders to contribute to insights and strategies that aim to optimize the quality, value, and delivery of health care.


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