Health Policy & Innovation

Meet the Health System Innovation Team

The HSI team: from left to right: Aubrey Cuthbertson; Kristina Natt och Dag, PhD, MA; Kristen Spaduzzi, MS; Franklin Walker, MBA; Melanie Phelps, JD; Danielle Snyder; Ashley Rodriguez, JD

The HSI Team – from left to right:

Aubrey Cuthbertson

Kristina Natt och Dag, PhD, MA

Kristen Spaduzzi, MS

Franklin Walker, MBA

Melanie Phelps, JD

Danielle Snyder

Ashley Rodriguez, JD

The Health System Innovation (HSI) Team is tasked with a wide variety of functions including:

Finding practice management solutions for NCMS members

  • HSI joined with NCMS partner Recovery Platform to respond to quickly evolving practice management needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic by developing a free telehealth solution called Presence.
  • HSI staff such as Kristen Spaduzzi also work on issues surrounding payer-provider relations and payment reform. Check out Kristen’s recent compilation of telehealth payer policies.

Addressing public health issues and social determinants of health 

  • HSI’s Franklin Walker developed several innovative programs such as Project OBOT and Our Community Health Initiative (OCHI) to address opioid use disorder and social determinants of health respectively;
  • Aware North Carolina’s low ranking in health care outcomes for mothers and infants, the HSI team hosted several Maternal and Infant Health Summits, bringing health care and community leaders together to address this important issue.

Convening groups around exploring innovative models of health care

  • HSI’s Melanie Phelps, JD, helped form the Toward Accountable Care Consortium (TAC), a collaboration of more than 42 medical society and health care organization members, which sought to create educational resources for health care providers interested in forming their own ACOs. That initiative led to the formation of the NC Population Health Collaborative and the NC ACO Council, which both offer innovative meetings centered around new developments aimed at improving health in North Carolina.

Developing leadership skills within health care teams

Improving access to care

  • HSI’s Franklin Walker and Danielle Snyder oversee the Community Practitioner Program (CPP), which recently celebrated its 30th year. CPP places primary care physicians, PAs and NPs into underserved and economically distressed areas of the state in return for educational loan repayment. Since the program’s inception, over 430 primary care providers have been placed in 85 counties within North Carolina, providing over $425 million in care for under- and uninsured patients.

Advocating on behalf of NCMS members on regulatory issues

Developing health care policy

  • A major role for the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is working with its membership to set health policy as an organization and take public positions on these and other issues as they enter the policy-making arena.
  • Maintaining the NCMS Policy Manual. The Policy Manual contains all of the NCMS’ current stances on a wide range health care issues, ranging from public health to containing medical costs. NCMS policies are reviewed every five years in order to ensure a policy’s relevance and applicability.

Search NCMS Policies

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Aubrey Cuthbertson

Program Manager, Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership

With the NCMS since 2017

Email Aubrey
Direct:  (919) 865-5255

Aubrey grew up in Plantation, Florida and moved to Raleigh to attend Meredith College, where she studied Mass Communications. In her spare time, she remains involved in her alma mater, serving on the Meredith College Young Alumnae Board, and she also enjoys entertaining.

Kristina Natt och Dag, PhD, MA

Vice President, Leadership Development

With the NCMS since 2014

Email Kristina
Cell: (919) 889-3809
Direct: (919) 719-4166

Kristina received her undergraduate and MA degrees in Human Rights from Lund University in Sweden and her Ph.D. in educational research and policy analysis from NC State. At the NCMS she oversees the leadership development activities of the Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership, which includes organizational development services. Her career has taken her all over the world including working with Estee Lauder companies as director of education and development in New York and throughout Europe. Her experience also includes the finance sector as well as non-profit.

She has served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the George Washington University and was more recently affiliated with Executive Education at Poole School of Management at North Carolina State University. Kristina, her husband Magnus and their two children, Alexander and Emma, enjoy the beautiful North Carolinian weather, spending time outdoors as a family hiking and boating.

Kristen Spaduzzi

Director, Health System Innovation

With the NCMS since April 2017

Email Kristen
Direct: (919) 719-4169

Kristen was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in Marietta, GA and Union City, TN. She earned her BS in Exercise Science and her MS in Sports Management at Middle Tennessee State University. She has worked as a practice manager at UNC Physicians Network and the director of center operations for Lifesigns in Raleigh. Not one to be idle, Kristen got her real estate license while out on maternity leave with her daughter, born in 2013. In her downtime, Kristen does love watching Georgia football, live music, reading and exploring.

Franklin Walker, MBA

Vice President, Rural Health Systems Innovation
Executive Director, Community Practitioner Program
Executive Director, Project OBOT NC
Executive Director, Our Community Health Initiative (OCHI)

With the NCMS since 2010

Email Franklin
Cell: (919) 280-4334
Direct:  (919) 865-5250

Franklin earned his BA at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and his MBA at Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH. Prior to his position at the NCMS, Franklin has been a restaurateur, the CEO of a medical/surgical practice, a health care consultant and on the faculty of UNC’s School of Public Health. Franklin enjoys boating, travel and reading. Born and raised in Chapel Hill, Franklin, his wife, Melanie, and teenage sons, Trey and Paul, and poodle, Fitzgerald, live in Raleigh.

Melanie Phelps, JD

Melanie Phelps, JD

Senior Vice President, Health System Innovation; NCMS Deputy General Counsel

With the NCMS since 2000

Email Melanie
Cell:  (919) 306-5123
Direct:  (919) 719-4163

Melanie focuses on a wide variety of health policy issues and represents the interests of the medical community in public and private forums. She provides research on legislative and regulatory matters and general legal and policy guidance on many of the issues impacting health care, but focuses most of her attention on issues related to the transition to value-driven health care, improving health and connecting the traditional health care system with community health partners to address determinants of health. Melanie organized and directs the Toward Accountable Care Consortium and Initiative as well as the NC Population Health Collaborative and the NC ACO Council.

Danielle Snyder

Project Manager, Health System Innovation

With the NCMS since 2018

Email Danielle
Direct: (919) 865-5251

Danielle was born in Phoenix and loves to travel. She holds a BS in Sociology from Appalachian State University and has worked in both the human and animal medical fields. Her experience in Nursing Assistance, Customer Service, and Management has allowed her an eclectic perspective on life and she enjoys being able to help bring people together. When not working hard, she can be found playing hard – hiking the Blue Ridge Mountains, painting, exploring “off the path” locations for photography opportunities, fostering rescue animals, watching horror movies, cooking and baking. She has a full house in Garner with her rescue dog Briana and her 3 rescue cats Azrael, Freya, and Dinah.

Ashley Rodriguez, JD

Director, Regulatory & Legal Affairs; Associate General Counsel

With the NCMS since 2019

Email Ashley
Direct:  (919) 719-4171

Ashley’s roots run deep in North Carolina. She grew up in Mount Olive and goes home often to visit her parents, who both are upper level administrators at the University of Mount Olive. After earning her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and her law degree at Campbell University, Ashley gained valuable experience as a medical malpractice defense attorney. Ultimately, however, she decided that public policy was a better fit and moved on to the North Carolina Division of Public Health as a legal consultant for the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. She and her husband, Orlando, also an attorney (they met at law school), consider themselves ‘amateur policy wonks’ and love debating the issues. Ashley spends every spare moment with her young daughter and enjoying family time boating on the Pamlico River.