2016 James M. Lally, DO, Emerging Leader Award Winner

September 17, 2016

It’s rare to see a physician so young have so much experience. But for Jay Bhatt, DO, leadership has been tried and tested. His definition of leadership comes from community organizer and Professor Marshall Ganz, who says that leadership is enabling purpose in the face of uncertainty. In every academic center, government body or clinic he serves, he finds a way to empower communities to change their future.

In his current role as Chief Health Officer at the Illinois Hospital Association (IHA), Dr. Bhatt designs and implements initiatives that reduce readmission rates, improve patient safety and increase efficiency while engaging physicians throughout the process. This work has prevented 15,887 instances of patient harm for cost savings of $161million. 

As the Chicago Department of Public Health’s Managing Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Strategy and Innovation, his job prior to the IHA, Dr. Bhatt was integral to the planning and development of the health system integration strategy for the nation’s 2nd largest municipal health department. Here, he has led the design and deployment of cutting edge interventions now replicated in cities across the nation.

As one of his mentors has said, “Not only does he bring such an unusual combination of resources to our work, but he is committed to turning them into a capacity for leadership – in a domain which is in critical need of leadership, that of health and healing.” 

His student years were no different. Dr. Bhatt was the first DO student to serve as president of the American Medical Student Association in its 57-year history. After graduating from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2008, he completed a Master in Public Administration at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government as a Zuckerman and Commonwealth Fund Mongan Fellow. 

Dr. Bhatt’s leadership extends into the most prominent groups in the American health care system. As the AOA’s liaison to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, he represents osteopathic medicine’s focus on preventive medicine and helps DOs use the group’s evidence-based recommendations to work smarter in caring for patients. He’s often a speaker at major health, public health and innovation conferences around the country. 

At the same time, his passion for community health never takes him far from patients. As an internist at Chicago’s Erie Family Health Center, a community-based clinic, he provides comprehensive primary care to an underserved population while conducting research to improve quality of care and improve public health. He’s an active participant in his community, providing leadership coaching and even teaching a dance class for patients. “I do it because it’s the best way I know to express my gratitude, but also because it’s an art that I use in healing—one that aligns with the osteopathic philosophy.”


Dr. Bhatt will join the American Hospital Association (AHA) this month to serve as its chief medical officer and President/CEO of its Health Research and Educational Trust. It’s a role Dr. Bhatt is familiar with, as a nationally recognized leader in predictive analytics and the integration of public health and delivery. 

Cole Zanetti, DO, said that “It is the rare individual who is able to combine solid leadership and management abilities with people skills and a strong knowledge base in order to move people to do great things.”

Dr. Bhatt does great things—as an osteopathic physician, in applied research, community member and leader. It is with great pride that the American Osteopathic Foundation bestows its James M. Lally, DO, Emerging Leader Award to Jay Bhatt, DO. 

Jay Bhatt, DO