Former CMS Official Rocco Perla Joins Health Leads as President

Healthcare Innovation Executive Accelerates Strategy to Mobilize and Equip Industry to Address Social Needs

Jan 20, 2016, 11:53 ET from Health Leads

BOSTON, Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- As the healthcare sector expands its role and investment in addressing patients' social needs, industry veteran Rocco Perla has joined Health Leads, a long-time leader in this field.

As Health Leads' President, Perla will enable the fast-growing social enterprise to achieve its vision of a healthcare system that addresses social needs as a standard part of quality care – and continue to arm healthcare organizations with the tools and insights they need to connect patients to the community-based resources they need to be healthy.

Perla's experience as a senior leader at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will also be critical as Health Leads supports provider organizations in the recently-launched Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) Accountable Health Communities (AHC) funding opportunity.

"Health Leads' pure and simple vision, and its team of true change-agents, hooked me from the start. For 20 years, Health Leads has pushed the boundaries of what's possible in patient care by bridging the gap between medical care and the social factors that impact health," said Perla. "The recent model announced by CMS sends a strong signal that addressing patients' social needs must be part of the health reform agenda, and Health Leads has the experience, expertise and passion to drive that change. I could not be more thrilled to lead the organization in our effort to transform the U.S. healthcare system."

Over the past four years, Perla held several leadership positions within CMMI, including director of Improvement Dissemination and Model Expansion and founding director of the CMS Regional Innovation Network, where he provided policy and operational leadership for national programs that support and share CMS' work to test new models of healthcare delivery and payment reform. He also served as director of the Learning and Diffusion Group, driving the establishment of a national learning system used to test these models across a wide range of public and private partners. Previously, he helped launch and direct the Center for Innovation and Transformational Change at UMass Memorial Health Care and was named a 2008-2009 Merck Family Fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

With Perla driving Health Leads operations, CEO and Founder Rebecca Onie will continue to provide strategic leadership for both the organization and the sector at large and collaborate closely with Health Leads' growing network of healthcare delivery organizations, industry leaders, policymakers and funders who are working to address social needs as a standard part of quality care. 

"Rocco brings not only deep healthcare sector expertise and authentic, values-based leadership, but a strong passion for the Health Leads vision – that there is no surer path to achieving a just and effective healthcare system than by tackling patients' social co-morbidities," said Onie. "With CMMI's game-changing investments in Accountable Health Communities, the timing of his appointment could not have been more fortuitous, and we are incredibly excited to be entering this next phase of sector change under Rocco's leadership."

"Beyond his clear connection to the Health Leads mission, Rocco has extensive experience leading healthcare organizations through rapid evolution and driving systemic change in the industry," said Thomas H. Lee, Jr., MD, M.Sc., chief medical officer of Press Ganey Associates and Health Leads board member. "His addition to the executive leadership team marks a significant milestone for the organization as it moves toward its next stage of growth."

With Perla's leadership, Health Leads will continue to expand and enhance its broad range of tools, technology, expertise and best practices in support of provider organizations interested in building or expanding successful social needs programs.

To receive updates related to Health Leads' Accountable Health Communities efforts, e-mail

About Health Leads
Health Leads is a social enterprise that envisions a healthcare system that addresses all patients' basic resource needs as a standard part of quality care. For 20 years, Health Leads has worked with leading healthcare organizations to tackle social co-morbidities by connecting patients to the community-based resources they need to be healthy – from food to transportation to healthcare benefits. Health Leads is committed to leveraging its tools, expertise and direct services to change what "counts" as healthcare – and accelerate the leadership, best practices, incentives and research required to improve the health and well-being of patients. Learn more at, reach us at and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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SOURCE Health Leads