Donald Lighter, MD Chief Medical Officer

drlighterA recognized expert and physician leader on performance improvement, quality measurement and medical informatics, Donald Lighter, MD, has served as Chief Medical Officer of Caris Healthcare since 2013. In that role, Dr. Lighter acts as a liaison and physician contact for Caris’ local hospice programs spread across five states as well as the patients and families, community physicians and nursing centers and assisted living communities Caris serves each day.

Under his leadership, Caris has improved how it leverages the data it collects to identify opportunities to enhance patient care, improve outcomes and control costs. He also has led efforts to utilize telemedicine across Caris’ broad and mostly rural service area to ensure patients receive high quality care in their homes. Dr. Lighter is an active member of the Caris Ethics and Compliance committees.

Dr. Lighter’s academic background includes nearly 20 years on the faculty of the Physician Executive MBA program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he has taught quality management, lean six sigma, physician leadership and medical informatics. During that same time he also has served as a Director at the Institute for Healthcare Quality Research and Education, where he helps companies achieve performance goals through application of advanced quality improvement approaches, including lean six sigma and Baldrige management programs.

A Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Lighter served as the Chief Quality Officer for the 22-hospital Shriners Hospitals for Children. Prior to that, for nine years he was the CEO of KidsHealth, Inc., the pediatric physician practice affiliated with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

In his work in the managed care sector, Dr. Lighter has been Vice President of Quality at WellCare, Director of Quality Management at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee and Medical Director at the University of Tennessee Health Plan.

Dr. Lighter has been an Alumnus Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Program since 2007 during which time he served a three-year term as a member of the team of judges that reviewed Baldrige Award finalists. His work with the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence, where he has been an examiner, trainer, judge and scorebook reviewer, first brought him into contact with Caris Healthcare and its senior management.

Dr. Lighter has authored more than 75 articles and chapters as well as three widely used textbooks on health care quality improvement:

  • Advanced Performance Improvement in Health Care,
  • Quality Management in Health Care: Principles and Methods (2nd Edition), and
  • Basics of Health Car Performance Improvement: A Lean Six Sigma Approach.

Dr. Lighter earned his medical degree from the St. Louis University School of Medicine. He received his Master of Business Administration in Management from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology also at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Exceptional Service

“Why wait to call? I’d much rather have my husband comfortable for six months than six days.” —   Mallory B.
2014-03-05T21:05:39+00:00
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“Why wait to call? I’d much rather have my husband comfortable for six months than six days.” —   Mallory B.
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Exceptional Service

“I feel at Caris, we add life to days, not days to live.” —   Dr. Jamie Oakley
2014-03-05T21:06:40+00:00
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“I feel at Caris, we add life to days, not days to live.” —   Dr. Jamie Oakley
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Exceptional Service

“I could never have words to tell my gratitude to Caris and their caring and compassionate staff! You are truly angels of mercy!” —   Maria S.
2014-03-05T21:04:23+00:00
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“I could never have words to tell my gratitude to Caris and their caring and compassionate staff! You are truly angels of mercy!” —   Maria S.
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Outstanding Patient Care

All Caris hospice teams include a nurse on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
2014-03-05T21:02:00+00:00
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All Caris hospice teams include a nurse on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
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Exceptional Service

“I would like to thank the whole Caris team for their thoughtfulness. They made sure about my husband’s dignity and helped us to fulfill his last wishes. The Caris team that cared for Billy and the way you helped us was very special. There was always someone to give us that little touch so we could go that next step.” —   Margie W.
2014-03-05T21:04:53+00:00
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“I would like to thank the whole Caris team for their thoughtfulness. They made sure about my husband’s dignity and helped us to fulfill his last wishes. The Caris team that cared for Billy and the way you helped us was very special. There was always someone to give us that little touch so we could go that next step.” —   Margie W.
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Exceptional Service

“The Caris hospice team was wonderful! My family could not have asked for any better care than what was given to my father. The nurses would talk to us as if they had no other patients at all. Please don’t change any of the care that you provide.”

—   Janie B.
2014-03-05T21:05:19+00:00
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“The Caris hospice team was wonderful! My family could not have asked for any better care than what was given to my father. The nurses would talk to us as if they had no other patients at all. Please don’t change any of the care that you provide.” —   Janie B.
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Operational Excellence

In 2011, Caris Director of Family Services David Fleming was awarded the Champion of Excellence award from the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence.
2014-03-05T21:03:23+00:00
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In 2011, Caris Director of Family Services David Fleming was awarded the Champion of Excellence award from the Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence.
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Operational Excellence

In 2013, Caris was awarded the Pinnacle Award for Business Excellence in the large business category by the Knoxville Chamber.
2014-03-05T21:03:10+00:00
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In 2013, Caris was awarded the Pinnacle Award for Business Excellence in the large business category by the Knoxville Chamber.
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Exceptional Service

“It takes special people to bear so many people’s burdens at such a critical time. I wouldn’t have done without Caris.” —   Mallory B.
2014-03-05T21:06:57+00:00
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“It takes special people to bear so many people’s burdens at such a critical time. I wouldn’t have done without Caris.” —   Mallory B.
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Exceptional Service

“Calling Caris wasn’t giving up on my wife. It was just the opposite – it gave her more.” —   Donald M.
2014-03-05T21:05:58+00:00
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“Calling Caris wasn’t giving up on my wife. It was just the opposite – it gave her more.” —   Donald M.
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Outstanding Patient Care

Caris is grateful and honored to have touched the lives of more than 26,000 patients and their families in the last 10 years.
2014-03-05T21:02:31+00:00
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Caris is grateful and honored to have touched the lives of more than 26,000 patients and their families in the last 10 years.
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Operational Excellence

In 2008, Caris was awarded the prestigious Excellence Award from the Tennessee Center of Performance Excellence.
2014-03-05T21:03:40+00:00
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In 2008, Caris was awarded the prestigious Excellence Award from the Tennessee Center of Performance Excellence.
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Exceptional Service

“Caris cares for and makes life easier for my patients and their families at the most difficult time of their lives. Caris helps my patients leave this life comfortably; both psychologically as well as physically.”
– Dr. Burgin Dossett
2014-03-03T16:39:59+00:00
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“Caris cares for and makes life easier for my patients and their families at the most difficult time of their lives. Caris helps my patients leave this life comfortably; both psychologically as well as physically.” – Dr. Burgin Dossett
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Operational Excellence

In 2014, the Caris Myrtle Beach, SC and Somerville, TN offices received the Deyta Hospice Honors Award for achieving the highest levels of patient satisfaction.
2014-04-25T16:09:26+00:00
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In 2014, the Caris Myrtle Beach, SC and Somerville, TN offices received the Deyta Hospice Honors Award for achieving the highest levels of patient satisfaction.
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Outstanding Patient Care

Ninety-three percent of Caris employees say they intend to stay with Caris for the next several years.
2014-03-05T21:02:15+00:00
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Ninety-three percent of Caris employees say they intend to stay with Caris for the next several years.
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Exceptional Service

“Caris came into my son’s life at a time when he really needed kindness shown to him and I’m really thankful.” —   Roberta M.
2014-03-05T21:06:20+00:00
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“Caris came into my son’s life at a time when he really needed kindness shown to him and I’m really thankful.” —   Roberta M.
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Exceptional Service

“It was so beneficial to have someone with vast experience who could answer our questions so that we could feel that Mom was receiving the best care possible at all times. This service is so important to those whose life is ending as well as their families.” —   Gary M.
2014-03-05T21:04:02+00:00
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“It was so beneficial to have someone with vast experience who could answer our questions so that we could feel that Mom was receiving the best care possible at all times. This service is so important to those whose life is ending as well as their families.” —   Gary M.
quality

Outstanding Patient Care

Eighty-eight percent of Caris employees say they would be likely to recommend Caris as one of the best places to work in the community.
2014-03-03T16:44:28+00:00
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Eighty-eight percent of Caris employees say they would be likely to recommend Caris as one of the best places to work in the community.
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Operational Excellence

In 2014, the Caris Johnson City office was recognized by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization as a Level 4 “We Honor Veterans” partner.
2014-04-25T16:10:07+00:00
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In 2014, the Caris Johnson City office was recognized by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization as a Level 4 “We Honor Veterans” partner.
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Exceptional Service

“Our hospice nurse showed great care while working with my mom, and gave me tremendous support. God bless you all and Caris for doing what you do at the end of someone’s life.” —   Susan T.
2014-03-05T21:05:07+00:00
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“Our hospice nurse showed great care while working with my mom, and gave me tremendous support. God bless you all and Caris for doing what you do at the end of someone’s life.” —   Susan T.
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Operational Excellence

In 2010, Caris was honored by a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award visit.
2014-03-05T21:02:51+00:00
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In 2010, Caris was honored by a Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award visit.