Helen Kao, MD

Associate Professor of Medicine, Geriatrician, Inpatient Services

Dr. Helen Kao is an Associate Professor in the Division of Geriatrics, and Medical Director of Geriatrics Clinical Programs at UCSF.

Helen completed both her residency in Internal Medicine and fellowship in Geriatrics at UCSF. She is dedicated to working with vulnerable older adults in both her clinical practice and through her leadership in implementing health systems change. She spearheaded the partnership between UCSF and Lifelong Medical Care, a community health organization, through which she provided primary care, house calls, nursing home and inpatient care, and hospice care through the Over 60 Health Center in Berkeley. While in Berkeley, she co-founded the Over 60 Bridge program to provide palliative care for patients with advanced illness who were not yet eligible or ready for hospice . Her rich experiences at the Over 60 Health Center inspired her current career focus on health systems improvement and development of innovative models of integrated care for older adults. She founded the Geriatrics Transitions, Consultation, and Comprehensive Care (GeriTraCCC) service in 2010 which, in collaboration with UCSF Medical Center and UC Home Health teams, has dramatically improved the well-being for frail older adults with congestive heart failure. GeriTraCCC was renamed Bridges in 2013 and reorganized to provide home-based palliative care. She co-founded the Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors with Dr Welty and faculty from UC Hastings School of the Law in 2012. This is one of only a handful of medical-legal clinics in the US focused on the needs of older adults.

Helen currently leads UCSF efforts to improve the care of older adults and expand access to geriatric care. Helen has been recognized with awards of distinction not only for her clinical care but also for her teaching and leadership.
Residency, - School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
Honors and Awards
  • Health Care Heroes Award, San Francisco Business Times, 2011
  • Geriatric Academic Career Award, Health Resources Services Administration, 2010-2015
  • Betty and James E. Birren Emerging Leadership Award, California Council on Gerontology and Geriatrics, 2010
  • Ida Cannon Award, Alta Bates Medical Center, 2009
  • Excellence in Teaching Award, UCSF Academy of Medical Educators, 2008
  • Geriatric Academic Career Award, Health Resources Services Administration, 2007-2010
  • Foundation Futures Award, American Medical Directors Association, 2007
  • Excellence in General Internal Medicine, UCSF, 2006
  • Gold-Headed Cane Award, UCSF, 2003