Sitting Down with Juan Fernando Lopera, Chief DEI Officer at BILH

September 27, 2023

Podcast: Sitting Down with Juan Fernando Lopera, Chief DEI Officer at BILH

On this week’s episode of Healthcare 360, Dr. Rob Fields sits down with Juan Fernando Lopera, Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer at Beth Israel Lahey Health, to discuss his role and what motivated him to work in health equity.

A New Start

If anyone understands the importance of health equity, it’s Juan Fernando Lopera. Discussing his journey to working in health equity, Lopera recalls growing up in Colombia and moving to the United States with his family as a child. Because his family had to go through a lengthy political asylum process, they faced many challenges, including language barriers and immigration status.

“I got to see firsthand how many systems, including the healthcare system, just did not work for people who had similar backgrounds [to him] or other backgrounds,” he says. He explains that his family relied on community health centers as the only places they could receive care due to their lack of health insurance and talks about becoming his family’s medical interpreter at just 13.

That experience eventually led him to Boston College and a consulting job. From there, he explored several industries until he finally decided that healthcare was the mission-driven industry he wanted to pursue.

BILH’s Inaugural DEI Officer

Talking about how he got started as BILH’s inaugural DEI Officer, Lopera explains the importance of finding a North Star – a vision for the role. “To transform care delivery by dismantling barriers through equitable health outcomes and become the premiere health system to attract, retain and develop diverse talent” is the finished vision statement.

Lopera, who started working in healthcare on the payer side when consulting, was excited to experience the delivery side of things within his new role. When asked about how healthcare delivery can be transformed, he points to the COVID-19 pandemic and how healthcare providers brought resources to patients rather than expecting patients to come to them, particularly via telehealth.

“I think that’s what needs to be applied for every aspect of healthcare delivery, especially if we’re going to try to close those disparities that do exist with COVID,” he says.

Every other week, we’ll chat with a leading expert in healthcare to learn about the many challenges and opportunities facing the industry. Listen to the full conversation with Lopera here, and check in regularly for new episodes of Healthcare 360.

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