By Ebimo Amungo
Ikenna Okezie, MD, MBA is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Somatus, the market leader in value-based kidney care. Dr. Okezie founded Somatus in 2016 to introduce a preventive and more holistic solution for patients with or at risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease or End-Stage Renal Disease. Under his leadership, the organization has grown to provide high-quality and customized care to nearly 21,000 patients with kidney disease across multiple states, employ over 300 clinical and operational leaders, and establish innovative, value-based partnerships with leading health plans, health systems, and providers.
Born in Nigeria, Okezie came to the United States at the age of two and was raised in Detroit. His attraction to medicine has been influenced by the fact that his father and elder brother are physicians, but his close-knit family has always encouraged him to widen his net.
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“They support my diversification into business,” Okezie told Harvard Business Review . He majored in economics at Yale, where he graduated cum laude and was captain of the wrestling team, the 1994 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and a Rhodes and Marshall scholar finalist.
Having also taken premed courses, Okezie moved on to Harvard Medical School in 1994. He earned high honors and honors in all clinical rotations and in 1995 and 1996 led a delegation of medical students to introduce case-based medical education at the University of Tokyo Medical School.
Three and a half years into his medical degree, the pull to follow his interest in business became irresistible. “I knew I wanted formal training in the field so I could combine entrepreneurship with medicine,” Okezie explains. With the encouragement of his HMS advisors, he submitted an application to Harvard Business School where he obtained an MBA in 1999 with honours.
Prior to founding Somatus, Dr. Okezie was the Group Vice President at DaVita, Inc. where he led all aspects of the strategic, operational, and financial management of a $1 billion business unit with over 4,000 employees and 600 contracted nephrologists in the Mid-Atlantic region. Prior to his time at DaVita, he worked as an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company, and a Managing Director at the Advisory Board Company.
Earlier in his career Ikenna worked as an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company and a Managing Director at the Advisory Board Company. He served for 6 years as a member of the Medical Review Board of CMS ESKD Network 5 and is a Fellow in the Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellowship.
Dr. Okezie currently serves as a board member for the Kidney Health Initiative, an organization whose mission is to catalyze innovation and the development of safe and effective patient centeredtherapies for people living with kidney diseases. He also served for six years as a member of the Medical Review Board of CMS ESRD Network 5 and three years as co-chair of the National Partnership for Action’s Regional Health Equity Council, which was formed to help eliminate health disparities in the region. Dr. Okezie is a Fellow in the Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellowship Program where, alongside other industry visionaries, he has committed to developing new approaches to improve the health and well-being of all Americans.