What healthcare leaders need to know now

 

Innovation keeps George Brown, Legacy ahead of the curve

By | October 20th, 2014 | Blog | 1 Comment

 

George Brown: “We believe if you do things right, you don’t have to do them all over again, and that means it’s also less expensive.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

George Brown, the CEO of Legacy Health System in Portland, Ore., has had a long and distinguished career as a physician and leader, but his talents in innovation help him keep his organization on the industry’s leading edge.

 

From collaboration and affordable care to medical homes and information technology, Brown and his team have been unafraid to adapt and take risks, providing an example to the northwest region and the country at large. Legacy joined with a number of organizations to form an integrated delivery system, Health Share of Oregon. It’s partnering on the OHSU Knight-Legacy HealthCancer Collaborative. In an era bursting with mergers and acquisitions, the path Brown has charted is intriguing.

 

“I have accepted the need to change from a completely competitive mindset to a collaborative mindset,” he says. “Competition doesn’t help the economics of healthcare – it divides communities.”

 

The Affordable Care Act has prompted soul-searching on the part of many executives, and Brown applauds the arrival of reform.

 

“I believe healthcare is too large of an issue for this country not to have a thoughtful and near-universal solution,” he says. “The Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction.”

 

Although Brown has a sterling history in healthcare, it’s clear he doesn’t waste time looking back. He is especially proud to be on the board of Cover Oregon, despite some of the hits that the exchange took in the media for its early problems.

 

“We’ve enrolled 400,000 people,” he says. “We are moving in the direction to have affordable healthcare for all Oregonians.”

 

The ACA, he says, mirrors some of the measures Legacy has already been working on for some time, foremost of which is quality.

 

“The number one project we have been working on is how to make our organization more efficient,” he says, “and what we’re driving efficiency to mean is quality. We believe if you do things right, you don’t have to do them all over again, and that means it’s also less expensive.”

 

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Quality, safety fuel Pujols McKee’s drive at The Joint Commission

By | October 6th, 2014 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Ana Pujols McKee: “When we see a high-performing organization, we almost consistently see a high level of physician engagement.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

Ana Pujols McKee’s passion for quality and safety existed long before she joined The Joint Commission as executive vice president and chief medical officer. She previously served as the CMO and associate executive director of Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, in Philadelphia, and as a clinical associate professor of medicine at a teaching hospital in Philadelphia. Pujols McKee has championed for years the need for transparency and patient-centered care.

 

“I’ve had my own personal experience with injury as a patient, and I think what began to propel me in this area were some of the unfortunate patient injuries I had to deal with as a chief medical officer. Seeing up close how deep the injury extends to the patient and family is truly overwhelming,” she says.

 

The physicians and nurses who are involved in an incident when a patient is harmed suffer too, she is quick to add.

 

“What we don’t always talk about is what we now refer to as ‘the second victim,’ and that’s the clinician and staff that are injured as well. It’s a tough situation.”

 

Being able to make strides in that area, Pujols McKee says, has been one of the highlights of her career. “When you work at an organization and you start to see those injuries decrease, and you start to see your infection rate come down and you start to see (patient) fall rates come down, there is nothing more rewarding than that – to know that you’re making a difference.”

 

From the time she was a child, she says, she knew she wanted to not only become a doctor but to run a large clinic – “all those altruistic dreams of taking care of people and making people well,” she says with a chuckle.

 

Pujols McKee’s prospects on the surface looked daunting – the world in which she grew up had some prejudicial obstacles blocking her way. She remembers constantly visiting a high school counselor to obtain information on college admission, only to have the woman continually tell her that she was busy or had no guidance for her.

 

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Bernard Tyson: Workers will share in healthcare costs, but cost shifting is not sustainable

By | September 18th, 2014 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Bernard Tyson: “I strongly believe that healthcare is unaffordable in large part because it's siloed, and it's running off the wrong chassis.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

At a recent New York Times conference on healthcare, Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson drew applause when he said that healthcare costs can’t continue to be shifted onto the backs of American workers, who have seen few wage increases in the last 20 years.

 

It’s one thing when a consumer activist or patient advocate makes a bold statement like that; it’s quite another when the words come from one of the most powerful healthcare executives in the country. In a conversation the following week, he elaborated on that point.

 

“You have the American people seeing the cost of living going up every year and seeing the cost of healthcare going up three or four times the cost of inflation,” Tyson said. “They see no real wage increases and then they get stuck with the added cost that’s been shifting to them from employers and insurers.

 

“That is not a long-term solution.”

 

What does seem to be working is the Kaiser Permanente business model, in which the organization serves as both health plan and healthcare provider, with capitation helping to fund the delivery of care and hospitals viewed as expense centers rather than revenue generators.

 

“One of the moral obligations that I believe I have as a leader in the healthcare industry is to bring a lot of transparency as to why I believe our model is the best way to go,” Tyson says. “It’s a system that doesn’t pay for volume, that isn’t motivating people to produce more of something in order to get paid. What we have been able to do for almost 70 years is align the incentives of the financing mechanism with the hearts and minds of physicians and other caregivers who continually sign up to do the right thing.”

 

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Dignity Health’s Lloyd Dean leads from experience and welcomes ‘healthcare for all’

By | September 4th, 2014 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Lloyd Dean: “In the healthcare field, we are going through not an evolution but a revolutionary change. I, for one, think it’s long overdue.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, has an enviable track record in the volatile world of healthcare, where he made his reputation as a turnaround expert for his work taking the organization (then known as Catholic Healthcare West) from perpetual losses to profitability in the early 2000s. But what continues to make him a leader among his healthcare peers is his anticipation and forward thinking.

 

In 2009, the organization partnered with Blue Shield of California and a physician network for coordinated care. That put the organization way ahead of the curve on the accountable-care front. Dignity Health’s emphasis on outpatient facilities in the last several years also has earned the positive attention of investors. In addition, Dean led the system as it transitioned from an officially Catholic health system in 2012 to one that still honored its Catholic roots while also allowing for growth through partnerships with both faith-based and non-faith-based organizations.

 

Dean says such moves demonstrate that Dignity Health “possesses a culture that values innovation, future-focused thinking, experimentation and, above all, a bias for taking action.”

 

He’s shown a similar decisiveness as he has championed the Affordable Care Act and been heavily involved in California’s health care exchanges, which have fared far better than other state’s systems.

 

“So far, so good,” says Dean. “The lessons learned in California are that, number one, if there’s a will to accomplish something at all political levels, it can happen and, number two, you have to involve the community.”

 

On the national scene, Dean has been a visible and vocal supporter of the ACA.

 

“In the healthcare field, we are going through not an evolution but a revolutionary change,” he says. “I, for one, think it’s long overdue. While it’s complex and while it’s difficult, the objective is sound and it’s something we should be pursuing – healthcare for all.”

 

Dean sees the ACA compelling healthcare leaders to change, or fall to the wayside.

 

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Diverse leadership key to solving health disparities, says Woods

By | August 25th, 2014 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Eugene Woods: “We should celebrate our differences because of the richness they bring to human experience.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

As a board member of the American Hospital Association and chair of its Equity of Care Committee, Eugene Woods has an opportunity to see up close how health disparities affect far too many people in the U.S.

 

“We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that significant inequities exist,” he says, noting a recent study by the Institute for Diversity in Management that indicates only 22 percent of hospitals have utilized data to identify disparities in treatment and/or outcomes between racial or ethnic groups by analyzing one or more of the following: clinical quality indicators, readmissions or CMS core measures. While this is an increase from 20% in 2011, Woods says he wants to see more results from the industry.

 

“The incidence of infant mortality, diabetes and colorectal cancer are in some cases twice as high among African-Americans as compared to whites. We can, and simply must, do better.”

 

Woods, who also serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer for the 33-hospital Christus Health system, comes at the issue of diversity from an interesting angle. His worldview was partially formed through his early years growing up in his mother’s hometown in Spain.

 

“What I learned is that similarities between cultures are much greater than the differences,” he remembers. “And also that, rather than it being something that separates us, we should celebrate our differences because of the richness they bring to human experience.”

 

His own family today reflects those beliefs, he says.

 

“My wife and I come from four distinct cultures – Mohawk (Native American), Spanish, African-American and Dutch. And while each has very unique traditions, all share many of the same important values. So when I look at the work I do in healthcare, though we serve people from all different walks of life, the common denominators are our values with respect to human dignity, respect and compassionate care.”

 

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Armada aims to bring the Baldrige process to Swedish

By | August 14th, 2014 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Tony Armada: “To see the impact you can make on the lives of the people who entrust their care to you is an awesome privilege.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

Anthony “Tony” Armada’s physician father and pharmacist mother emigrated from the Philippines with their children, some suitcases, and a few thousand dollars. The impact they’ve made on healthcare in their adopted country has grown exponentially over the last several decades.

 

“Everyone is passionate about what they do, right?” says Armada, with a laugh, from his office at Swedish Health Services in Seattle, where he’s the CEO of one of the Northwest’s largest health systems. “The more you can make meaningful changes for the benefit of others, the better off you are.”

 

Armada’s parents saw all of their children make a difference in healthcare. Armada’s oldest brother owns a research consulting firm that works with pharmaceutical companies. Two other brothers are physicians and his two sisters are nurses.

 

“Delivering care and being a servant leader are just in my genetic code,” he says. “To see the impact you can make on the lives of the people who entrust their care to you is an awesome privilege.”

 

Previously, Armada had been a leader with several of healthcare’s premier organizations throughout his career, including Kaiser Permanente, the Baldrige Award-winning Henry Ford Health System, and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and Children’s Hospital. Those experiences have informed the mantra by which he operates: “Always the best.”

 

“I come at this from a very simplistic vantage point,” he says. “What’s really cool about ‘always the best’ is that it’s individual as well as organizational. I always encourage people I engage with to reflect on that time when you actually bested your best: What did that feel like?

 

“It’s very energetic – it comes with a passion. And then people start getting onto this bandwagon of always wanting to best their best.”

 

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Georges Benjamin advocates for a better health system

By | August 7th, 2014 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Georges Benjamin: “We’re all kind of living in a type of echo chamber where we will only tune in and listen to people who agree with us.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

Georges Benjamin had a wonderful experience as a military physician, eventually rising to become chief of emergency medicine for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. But the diverse environment he experienced in those days bore little resemblance to what he encountered when he returned to life as a civilian.

 

“I was a beneficiary of a time when we had active affirmative action programs and had a significant number of minority students in my medical school classes as well as my residency,” he says. “There were many leaders who were part of a minority when I served in the military. When I went out to the private sector I noticed that I was far too often the only minority leader in the room. Thankfully, that’s begun to change.”

 

Today, as the executive director of the American Public Health Association, Benjamin is a strong advocate not only for the public health workers his organization represents, but also for diversity at every level of a company. “In a country like ours, which has such a variety of experiences, the value in having a diverse workplace is that people bring in different ways of thinking,” he says. “We bring our experiences to the problem-solving process, and I think it helps create different solutions.”

 

In today’s political climate, he says, “we’re all kind of living in a type of echo chamber where we will only tune in and listen to people who agree with us. If you talk to yourself and answer your own questions, you’re less likely to get the most inclusive and innovative answers.”

 

Benjamin and the APHA are a non-partisan organization. They have both extolled and chastised Republicans and Democrats on issues that affect public health. But Benjamin says he’s seen a change in how politics can affect public health.

 

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Foresight is the key to David Lopez’s leadership

By | July 14th, 2014 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

David Lopez: “Once you’ve established what you need to get accomplished, you’ve got to keep after it. You don’t let little things deter you.”

 

One in a series of profiles of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Minority Executives in Healthcare (sponsored by Furst Group)

 

Over the last several years, as many hospitals and health systems across the country were building patient towers for their acute-care needs, David Lopez, the outgoing CEO of Harris Health System in Houston, was quietly shifting his organization in anticipation of some of the changes that the Affordable Care Act has brought.

 

He didn’t expect more revenues from inpatient services; he worked to build a strong wellness program and to ramp up primary care heavily. There’s a reason for that.

 

“If you look at our statistics, 64 percent of our patients have no insurance,” he says. “For us, more volume on the acute-care side means we spend more money. For us, it’s not about generating more revenue. It’s about managing our costs.”

 

Harris provides 35,000 admissions every year, but Lopez notes that outpatient visits have reached 1.4 million annually, with an additional increase of 300,000 expected in the next 18 months.

 

“If the patient can be taken care of in a primary-care setting or another setting, the best way to lower your cost overall is to avoid the admission,” he says. “You’re better off doing that than looking at the patient as a potential revenue opportunity.”

 

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