Eric Harkness

Director, Office of Health Policy

Tennessee Department of Health

Eric Harkness is director of the Office of Health Policy at the Tennessee Department of Health. He began his career in state government at the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury, authoring a report on healthcare finance that ultimately led to the creation of Tennessee’s first comprehensive and ongoing state population health improvement plan. Soon after creating the report, Eric joined the Office of Health Planning, and over the last decade has served as a principal architect of the State Health Plan and the Tennessee Department of Health’s population health improvement framework. He led the development of Tennessee’s ongoing county health assessment process that is being piloted in 16 counties and led his staff in support of the Governor’s Commission on Pain and Addiction Medicine Education.

Eric graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Public Policy and Sustainability Studies, and he is currently an MPH candidate and Bloomberg Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

BOLD SOLUTION: Eric facilitated the development of a population health framework that engages traditionally non-health-minded entities, leading them to see the benefits of incorporating health into their thinking and decisions. His department is supporting and broadening the appeal of county health coalitions, putting them in the driver seat to address local determinants of health and improve livability. In turn, the department will gain insight from the priorities and interventions selected at the local level, enabling the Tennessee Department of Health to better align resources in support of local priorities.
While others are fast at work re-imagining healthcare reimbursement, any new payment model will fall short without the knowledge of how to build sturdy bridges through diplomacy across multiple sectors. I believe the work I'm doing now is a great proving ground to contribute to such a model.