In her new roles that she began on June 1, Dr. Ansari succeeds Richard Isaacs, MD, FACS. She also succeeds Dr. Isaacs as co-CEO of The Permanente Federation, the national leadership and consulting organization for the 8 Permanente Medical Groups, which, together with the Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, comprise Kaiser Permanente.
Dr. Ansari is the first woman to lead both medical groups.
“I am tremendously honored to assume the role of CEO of both The Permanente Medical Group and the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group, and to co-lead The Permanente Federation,” she said. “As we look to the future, I’m excited to help our physicians and care teams deliver on the promise of Permanente Medicine by transforming patient care delivery, encouraging and accelerating innovation, and creating an environment where we invest in our physicians and staff, so they can do their best work.”
Prior to her new roles, Dr. Ansari served as physician in chief and chief of staff at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center beginning in 2014. Under her transformational leadership, Kaiser Permanente San Francisco designed and implemented advances in primary care and specialty care by supporting physicians and staff in creating and sustaining a culture of trust, innovation, and teamwork.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she served as the chief medical office liaison to the San Francisco Department of Public Health COVID Vaccine Taskforce.
The universal language of healing
Dr. Ansari said she decided to become a physician at age 16 during a medical mission in Iran with her father, a vascular surgeon.
“Each morning we’d wake up and look outside and 200 people were lined up to receive care,” she said. “All of them lived in the hinterlands and had heard the ‘doctor from America’ was coming. I had an epiphany: I wanted to become a doctor like him. What I witnessed was a universal language of healing, of my father putting his hand where something hurts, of validating and listening to people’s concerns.”
Later, when she was a medical student in the early 1990s, she returned to Iran with her father, who trained surgeons to perform coronary artery bypass surgery.
“The experience taught me about the value of team-based care,” she said. “It’s not just about the surgery. It’s about the anesthesiologist, the nursing care, the pharmacist, the blood bank — the entire team that makes surgery possible.”
A commitment to medicine
In 2007, Dr. Ansari became chief of the Cardiology Department at Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center. She has served as chair of chiefs of cardiology at regional and national levels during her 19 years at Kaiser Permanente.
Originally from Michigan, Dr. Ansari earned her Bachelor of Science and medical degree and completed her residency in internal medicine at the University of Michigan. She completed a cardiology fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and is a graduate of the Kaiser Permanente Executive Leadership Program from Harvard Business School.
Dr. Ansari is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology, a member of the American Society of Echocardiography, and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSF.
Dr. Ansari recently sat down for an in-depth interview with TPMG’s Permanente Excellence magazine in which she shared her inspiration to pursue a career in medicine, her perspective on the value of innovation and transformation in health care, and her vision to empower teams of physicians and staff throughout the organization.