2018 Leaders in Health Care, Outstanding Medical Director or Chief Medical Officer: Stephen Tarnoff, F. Marc Stewart

The president and CEO of Washington Permanente Medical Group, and the medical director at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance are Leaders in Health Care.

This article appears in print in the March 2018 issue. Click here for a free subscription.


Stephen Tarnoff, M.D.
President and CEO, Washington Permanente Medical Group, Seattle wa.kaiserpermanente.org

In the first 25 years of his career, Dr. Stephen Tarnoff was a family physician. “I’m a little bit old school in that some folks come out of medical school training knowing almost immediately that they want to get into the business part of medicine, or management or leadership,” he relates. “I loved practicing medicine, and all I ever wanted to do was be a family physician. It was incredibly fulfilling. I was in the hospital. I delivered babies. It was the full spectrum of what you could do as a family physician, and I received immense joy out of that.”

As time went on, however, Tarnoff became frustrated with the slow pace of change and the opportunities to accelerate improvement in clinical quality and service quality. “I would ask questions such as, ‘Why can’t we do things differently?’ and people would say, ‘Well, that’s the way it’s done. If you want to do things differently, go ahead, but you have to step up and start leading.’”

So that’s what he did. Tarnoff started taking on projects, and the more he accomplished, the more satisfying it was. He saw that his efforts were improving care for tens of thousands of patients, far beyond the 2,000 he personally cared for.

Tarnoff is widely credited with making the transition from Group Health Physicians to Washington Permanente Medical Group a seamless one, leading the medical group through Kaiser Permanente’s acquisition of Group Health Cooperative. As head of Washington Permanente Medical Group, he is responsible for overseeing the care of more than 677,000 members. 


F. Marc Stewart, M.D.
Medical Director Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Seattle seattlecca.org

In addition to his role as medical director at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Dr. Marc Stewart is a member of the Clinical Research Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and a professor in the Medical Oncology Division at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He serves on the board of directors for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of 27 of the world’s leading cancer centers, and is cochair of its best practices committee.

In that capacity, he helped to establish and champion a national patient-safety campaign around the correct administration of the chemotherapy drug Vincristine, helping providers to avoid compromising the health of patients. 

See the full list of Leaders in Health Care winners here.

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