A 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.