Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame
George Halvorson’s prescription for America’s ailing health care system built Kaiser Permanente into the nation’s largest managed care company and hospital network. Norwegian-American Halvorson served as chairman and CEO of the industry giant from 2002 to 2013, and during that time oversaw its $4 billion investment in electronic health-record software and infrastructure. Halvorson considers that operation — the largest privately funded computer systems project in the world at the time — the most influential action he took as chief executive at Kaiser.
Nearly as pressing an issue for Halvorson — and one that remains important to him — is health care accessibility for persons of all social, economic, and ethnic groups. Earlier in his career he started or helped start plans in several underserved countries. And successes by the Kaiser system in dealing with the needs of a highly diverse patient population — utilizing science-based and the computer-supported changes he helped to implement — are well-documented and lauded. He was the first recipient of the National Action Network Health Care Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in addressing health care disparities. He shares his Rx in his book, Ending Racial, Ethnic and Cultural Disparities in American Health Care. Halvorson has authored eight health care-related books.
Diversity also reigned on the company payroll during Halvorson’s tenure, and still today a majority of Kaiser’s employees are minority. The organization has won awards for its diversity as well as earning recognition for its care quality and service levels.
Now retired from health care administration, Halvorson remains very much engaged in caring. As chair and CEO for The Institute for InterGroup Understanding, Halvorson is focused on putting processes, teaching materials, and learning programs in place to help people deal with issues of racism, discrimination, and intergroup anger and conflict — and as chair of California’s First 5 Commission for Children and Families, he works on issues of improving neuron development and connectivity in the brains of babies in their first years of life.
Halvorson was born in Menagha, Minnesota and received his undergraduate degree at Concordia College in Moorhead.