Unlike many young Black men, Wayne Rawlins was exposed to the medical profession at an early age. His uncle was a general practitioner and his father was “one of the few Black dentists in the Hartford [Connecticut] area, so it wasn’t such a stretch for me to go into the medical profession,” he says.
Throughout his 30-year career, Dr. Rawlins studied the impact of racial/ethnic disparities on patient populations. That’s why, as Aetna’s recently appointed national medical director, he looks forward to identifying areas where disparities exist among Black, Latino, Asian and other Aetna members. (Aetna is No. 30 in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.)
“If you have disparities in healthcare that result in waste in the system, it’s an economic issue that’s impacting our entire country,” he says. “We could be doing something else with that [money].”
After earning a medical degree from the University of Connecticut in 1980 and completing an internal-medicine and chief residency at the University of Rochester, Rawlins served as a physician manager with Northeast Permanente Medical Group, where he sought out “ways to better manage my diabetic population.” In 1997, attracted to Aetna’s work in disease management, he joined the insurer, rising to the role of northeast regional medical director, responsible for 2.5 million members. Although his professional focus has moved from military care to health policy to pandemic preparedness and more over the years, Rawlins’ passion to close the racial/ethnic healthcare-disparities gap remained a core value that aligned closely with Aetna’s.
In 2002, Aetna was one of the first insurers to collect racial/ethnic information voluntarily from members.
Rawlins, who earned an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is a member of the National Medical Association, American College of Physicians and the American College of Physician Executives. Committed to ending healthcare disparities internally
and externally, he serves on the National Quality Forum’s Cultural Competency panel and the Institute of Medicine’s subcommittee on Standardized Collection of Race-Ethnicity Data for Healthcare Quality Improvement.