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Leading the Charge for Change

Family physician oversees healthcare for the multitude
By Scott Warner

Dr. Alvia Siddiqi had an epiphany when she was 13-years-old. That’s when the Canadian-born teenager visited family in India with her father and was stunned by the poverty and illness she witnessed. It was then when she determined that she would become a doctor and take care of as many people as possible.

Fast forward to today. Dr. Siddiqi’s wish has been fulfilled. She is president of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, and is medical director of Advocate Physician Partners, where she oversees the Advocate Accountable Care Entity (ACE) of nearly 100,000 Medicaid beneficiaries, mostly children and their mothers. The Advocate ACE plan recently transitioned to Meridian Health Plan of Illinois, as part of an integrated care model, and Dr. Siddiqi continues to lead efforts toward a smooth transition. “The collaboration was driven largely by recent changes to the Medicaid program in Illinois and has been designed to ensure our current Medicaid ACE members continue to receive high-quality, well-coordinated care,” she said. Not incidentally, Advocate is the largest health system in Illinois, and Meridian is Illinois’ top-rated Medicaid MCO, and it all fits in with her goal of providing high-quality care for many.

While most of her work does not involve direct patient care, Dr. Siddiqi is deeply involved in educating physicians about ACOs, patient-centered medical homes, and Illinois Medicaid managed care. “It’s very complicated. Both providers and patients are confused about how to best navigate all the changes and complexities of the Illinois Medicaid program,” she says. She works at engaging physicians in healthcare reform, and encouraging not only physicians, but also health systems and hospitals to be involved in the health management for underserved populations. She shows physicians ways to best meet the needs of their patients and encourages them to use their care team, like having medical assistants do diabetic foot exams.

Daunting as her tasks are, Dr. Siddiqi comes to the job with formidable experience. Before joining Advocate last July, she served as medical director of the Illinois Health Connect PCCM, which included nearly 6,000 primary care medical homes in a network responsible for the care of 1.8 million Medicaid beneficiaries. Prior to that, she worked in traditional inpatient and outpatient settings with Alexian Brothers Medical Group, and as an attending physician with Cook County Health and Hospital Systems.

Dr. Siddiqi says she chose family medicine as her specialty because she wanted to have a wide scope of training from delivering newborns to discussing end-of-life care. Today, she says many family physicians are sought out by healthcare organizations for administrative positions because of their expertise throughout the patient continuum.

Her father, a former real estate agent, had emigrated from India, and her mother, a data entry worker, had earned a master’s degree in organic chemistry in Pakistan. They recognized their daughter’s interest in medicine, and encouraged her to become a doctor. Today, she is further encouraged in her career by her husband, Ahsan Yousaf, analytics advisor at CVS Health. He, along with their extended family, helps in raising their three young daughters, all under age 5.

She says she has a good work-life balance and loves her work around population health management. “I think it’s important for physicians to help lead the change that’s happening.”

Career Highlights

Dr. Alvia Siddiqi graduated cum laude from Loyola University Chicago, with a bachelor’s of science and earned her medical degree from Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine; she completed her family medicine residency at MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn, where she was also chief resident. She volunteers at a free clinic, New Life Volunteer Services (NLVS) in Rogers Park, where she has one-on-one visits with patients, and mentors medical students at the clinic.

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