CHICAGO, IL – Chicago United recently announced that Dr. Ram Raju, Chief Executive Officer of Cook County Health and Hospitals System is one of 45 local business executives to be featured in its newest Business Leaders of Color (BLC) publication. The business advocacy group created this publication to highlight exceptional corporate and civic leaders who currently serve, or are ready to contribute, as board directors for Fortune 1,000 companies.

The Chicago United Business Leaders of Color are recognized as individuals who, in the face of complex global economies, have combined vision with the ability to execute on strategies. They have led large scale operations domestically and internationally with a focus on innovation and a keen ability to drive transformational change in their organizations.

Chicago United has presented the Business Leaders of Color publication biennially since 2003. Past BLC members include First Lady Michelle Obama, Valerie B. Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Don Thompson, chief executive officer of McDonald’s Corp., Amir Shahkarami, CEO Exelon Nuclear Partners.

The publication features individuals who are eminently qualified to serve on corporate boards. Through their identification, Chicago United helps to accelerate inclusion of professionals of color in board governance.

These individuals were selected from a nominations pool of more than 110 exceptionally qualified nominees from a wide variety of product and service industries.

Prior to accepting the role of CEO at CCH, Dr. Ram Raju served as the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation’s (HHC) Executive Vice President, Corporate Chief Operating Officer and Chief Medical Officer.

While at HHC, the organization reached great heights in the Quality and Patient Safety arenas. His pioneering work in the health care data transparency won the coveted Eisenberg Award. During that time, HHC captured many awards including the Pinnacle Award, Quest for Quality Award, and Nicholas Davis Awards. Raju was instrumental in starting palliative care services at HHC. He was an integral part of the team that embarked on the HHC transformation…both clinical and operational. The clinical transformation took over 180 HHC primary care centers into Level III PCMHs (Patient Centered Medical Homes) designation by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and began a large multi-specialty physicians’ group to prepare HHC for the Accountable Care Act model. The operational transformation involved streamlining the care delivery and operational models by rightsizing the work force, consolidating and retaining the core businesses while outsourcing non-core businesses.

During his over 30 years in health care Raju served in various leadership positions in not-for-profit and public hospital systems in New York. He served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Medical officer at Coney Island Hospital and Senior Vice President and Director of Medical Education at Lutheran Health System. He was the founding director of a Level I Trauma Center in Brooklyn. While at Coney Island Hospital he led the patient safety movement from its infancy to being named as one of the top Patient Safety Organizations by Consumer Digest.

During his first two years with the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCH) Dr. Raju reversed the cash hemorrhage and turned the financial status of the system around – revenue capturing improved the cash flow by over 100 million dollars. His proposed health care delivery model fetched the much coveted 1115 Waiver to the Social Security Act from the federal government. Also, for the first time in the history of the organization physician billing was incorporated into revenue collections. Under his leadership CCH received meaningful use designation for advancement in information technology, specifically the electronic medical record; and improvements in the supply chain management included installation of an electronic inventory management and tracking system which, when fully implemented, will yield millions of dollars in savings.

The patient experience, which is a major focus of Raju’s leadership at CCH, is reflected by the improved Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers (HCAPHs) scores, and in the reduction of wait times in the Emergency Department to less than two hours. The clinical improvements at CCH include The Joint Commission accreditation for Stroger and Provident Hospitals as well as the Ambulatory clinic network.

Dr. Raju began his professional career in India. He attended Madras Medical College to earn his medical diploma and subsequently did a residency in Surgery culminating in a Master of Surgery degree.

He underwent further training in England and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. He served in various capacities in England and subsequently underwent surgical training in the United States. Dr. Raju also did a fellowship in Vascular Surgery. He is Board Certified in Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He has held the position of Clinical Professor in multiple Medical Schools. He has been actively involved in teaching residents and medical students for many years, and won the Best Teacher award many times throughout his career. He is an avid researcher and has published many articles in peer review journals. Raju is also a physician executive, having obtained an MBA from the University of Tennessee and CPE from the American College of Physician Executives.

He currently serves as an adjunct professor in Business Management at the University of Tennessee. He has held many positions in Healthcare Organizations, including Director of Surgery, Director of Trauma, Director of Surgical Research, and Director of Medical Education. He has also served on various local and state wide committees including the American Hospital Association Region 2 Governance Board and on the President’s Forum: The Acute Post -Acute Hospital Continuum, a Member of the National Quality Forum Steering Committee National Voluntary Consensus Standards for Emergency Care – Phase II Hospital based Emergency Care, and as Chairman of the American College of Health Care Executives Higher Education and Research Committee. Dr. Raju’s professional society memberships include the American College of Physician Executives and the American College of Surgeons.

Dr. Raju married a fellow resident he met at Madras Medical College, urologist Samanthi Raju. They have a son and a daughter. Dr. Raju lives in downtown Chicago.

“Chicago United is proud to have showcased 224 board-ready candidates biennially between 2003 and 2011,” said Gloria Castillo, president and CEO of Chicago United. “During this time, these men and women have rendered service in 135 corporate directorships. It is a remarkable record and we anticipate many of the 2013 BLC will join the ranks of their predecessors.”