Ara Balkian, MD, MBA

Chief Medical Director, Inpatient Operations
Attending Physician
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics (Clinician Educator), Keck School of Medicine of USC

Ara Balkian, MD, MBA, is a pediatric hospitalist and the Chief Medical Director of Inpatient Operations at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. He’s also an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.

Dr. Balkian completed his internship (1999-2000) and residency (2000-2002) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and was then selected to serve as Chief Resident in Pediatrics at the hospital (2002-2003).

Following his training, he became the first hospitalist at CHLA and then served as the Associate Head of the Division of Hospital Medicine and the Associate Chair of Inpatient Pediatrics for the Department of Pediatrics for a number of years before taking on his current leadership role for the hospital.

In his hospital administrative role, he’s the medical director of the Access & Transfer Center, which is responsible for the handling of almost 18,000 admissions a year. He also leads the hospital's utilization management (UM) program and helps lead CHLA’s throughput management efforts. He led the organization through a major change in 2013 (with a safe & significant reduction in length-of-stay) when California’s Medicaid program moved to the APR-DRG reimbursement model.

He helped develop and leads the Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) program to ensure the medical record accurately reflects the true acuity of CHLA’s patients. He developed and leads the CHLA Physician Advisor program which helps patients, families and staff navigate the hospital system in a safe and efficient manner. He is the medical director for inpatient care coordination and the denials management program and is also heavily involved in performance improvement, quality improvement, and patient safety efforts. He has lectured nationally on topics related to hospital reimbursement, CDI, denials management and pediatric physician advisor program development.

He chairs or participates on numerous committees throughout the organization and also serves on the Business Operations Committee of Children's Hospital Los Angeles Medical Group, the largest pediatric multi-specialty medical group in the country. He has served on the Board of Directors for Children's Hospital Los Angeles Medical Group and the Medical Executive Committee for CHLA.

Board-Certified in Pediatrics, Dr. Balkian provides clinical care to patients with complex and acute medical needs as a Pediatric Hospitalist. Through his clinical and academic roles, he is actively involved in the teaching of medical students, residents and fellows and has received the Phillip Rothman Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Dr. Balkian was raised in Los Angeles and received his bachelor’s degree from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington (1995) and his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia (1999). He completed his Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California (2010).

His research interests are in the development and evaluation of processes to improve the quality of care and efficiency of health care delivery for hospitalized children.

He is a member of numerous professional societies, including the American College of Healthcare Executives; the Chief Medical Officers Group of the Association of American Medical Colleges; the Children’s Hospital Association Chief Medical Officer’s Forum; the Healthcare Financial Management Association; the Society of Hospital Medicine; the Academic Pediatric Association; and the American Academy of Pediatrics

Clinical Interests

Hospital Medicine and inpatient care of acute and chronically ill children with complex medical issues.


Medical School

Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University

Graduate School

Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California


Children's Hospital Los Angeles: Pediatrics


Children's Hospital Los Angeles: Pediatrics; Children's Hospital Los Angeles: Chief Resident - Pediatrics



Pediatrics; American Board of Pediatrics

Professional Memberships

American Academy of Pediatrics. Society of Hospital Medicine


Phillip Rothman Memorial Award for Excellence in Teaching


Throughput Management (Efficiency of Patient Flow) initiatives, Improving the discharge process, hospitalists' roles in throughput management.