What healthcare leaders need to know now

 

Regional Health President and CEO, Brent Phillips, shares his perspective of technology’s influence on Healthcare.

By | December 5th, 2017 | Blog, Industry Reports | Add A Comment

 

Brent Phillips, Regional Health President and CEO

“I personally want to see more roles that look at HOW we capitalize on digital transformation and not just how to adopt it.”


In a recent interview with Brent Phillips, President & CEO of Regional Health, we explored, in collaboration with IIC Partners, the impact that digital transformation is having on healthcare and the patient-care life cycle.


How does digital transformation affect the patient care life cycle for your organization?


I would like to see digital transformation really shift the patient care life cycle paradigm on its head. Digital transformation can allow patients to receive care when they need it, in an environment where they need it—in their “lifespace.” This can be the home, office or even in the classroom. Reimbursement models will need to adapt to allow for this, but digital transformation in other aspects of our lives will push our patients to demand this type of care. Another example of this is the site AnyLabTestNow.com, which allows patients to order and review lab results for simple blood tests, hormone tests and genetic screening without a physician order. Why would a patient need to come to a traditional healthcare setting when these types of services are offered? We need to consider how we will tap into these new options and still provide traditional healthcare services for those that need it.


How does digital transformation change the demands in existing leadership structures and what new roles arise as a result of digital transformation?


The new role I have created at Regional Health, for the Chief Performance Officer, is a great example of a leadership role developed to support the changes that digital transformation is bringing. The idea of bringing together system-wide services such as enterprise intelligence, quality and operational performance management makes so much sense. This will allow us to better connect technology to the patient care life-cycle. This next comment may be controversial, but I think the role of the CMIO and CIO will diminish and disappear over time. All caregivers need to use technology ALL of the time, and this won’t be seen as a unique skill set but rather mandatory. Standardization is being driven by both technology and value-based care, which will also drive less need for IT development and support. Cloud technologies will create less reliance for on-site IT personnel. I personally want to see more roles that look at HOW we capitalize on digital transformation and not just how to adopt it.


In what ways does big data impact your organization and how can it improve the patient care experience?


I am not sure that “big data” is the term I would use. However, transformation of data to information will have a huge impact—if we approach it correctly. We need to know what the right “test questions” are and focus more on our use of data. This has been a challenge in every healthcare organization I have worked in. We need to start small, show value and process improvement through data and then expand. I think we will see more consolidation of data sources, and this will become advantageous for organizations like Regional Health. We will need to watch this space and understand how to tap into these sources. Technology that allows us to bring together disparate data is also changing and becoming less costly and more available, but there is a cultural challenge to overcome for institutions. Many people are stuck in the traditional data warehousing mentality and this can have a negative impact on transformation. Regional Health will benefit from data interoperability efforts, especially for people visiting remote areas who need our care. If we can connect with their home healthcare organizations and retrieve necessary data, this will allow for safe and efficient care delivery.


What are the largest challenges when it comes to digital transformation and patient care for your organization?


Cost. State-of-the-art technologies are not inexpensive and changes in reimbursement are not making it easy for us to continue to invest heavily in some of the infrastructure we need. At the same time, people are reluctant to move to the cloud which also isn’t necessarily inexpensive either. There is definitely a lack of skilled people available in data analytics and integration of technology. Finally, culture is a major challenge given that we haven’t been early adopters to technology in general and now we are playing catch-up.


How does digital transformation of other key players in the healthcare system (hospitals, health insurance, pharmaceutical companies) impact your business?


Our competition is no longer local—it is everywhere, even international. When a patient can conduct a virtual visit in a more convenient way than they can with Regional Health, how do we convince them to still come to us? There will also be technologies (e.g., remote monitoring, medical devices) that will allow for care to be delivered in different ways that we will need to evaluate for adoption. Insurance transformation (or lack thereof) is probably an area that can most negatively impact Regional Health. If we want to deliver care in different ways, but reimbursement isn’t available, this will halt our ability to take advantage of these digital advances.




What are your thoughts on the impact of technology on the patient life cycle and healthcare in general? Share them below in the Comments section.


Read additional insights in the full IIC Partners’ industry report, “Impact of Digital Transformation on the Patient Life Cycle,” which includes more interviews with top healthcare executives around the world.


Read the Industry Report Button


 

 

Executive succession as a talent strategy

By | November 20th, 2017 | Blog, Leadership Development, Succession Planning | Add A Comment

 

It’s daunting to think about your executive leaders parting from the organization, but spending time planning for this inevitability can actually reduce surprises and even help retain your top talent. Research has shown that teams feel more engaged when they can see the path forward and have better awareness of development and growth opportunities.


Thinking about succession planning can be overwhelming, but when you utilize a system that walks you through every step it can alleviate organizational anxieties, and help to solidify your plans for future bottom-line growth.


In a recent article in Wharton Healthcare Quarterly, Bob Clarke and Joe Mazzenga of Furst Group and NuBrick Partners found that more than 50 percent of organization had no formalized succession plan for their executive leadership team. So, if you don’t have something in place, you’re not alone.


Succession Planning Graphic

Many HR teams lack the abundance of resources to effectively manage even the immediate needs of an organization, so asking them to look into the future three, five, or even 10 years continues to lose in the battle for time and resources on the priority list. But if it’s reframed properly as a retention strategy, it tends to get the top-line billing that it needs to truly deliver a competitive advantage in talent acquisition and retention, as well as a growth perspective.


Being able to create a data-driven development plan that allows your executive leadership team to thrive comes from knowing where you want to take the organization in the short and long term. It can be difficult to plan effectively if you are unsure of your team’s intentions when it comes to retirement, desire for growth and so on.


Also, when you consider the deep impact an unexpected change in your executive leadership will have both culturally and operationally on your organization, succession planning must be considered an immediate, high-level need.


Learn more about Executive Succession from NuBrick Partners by reading their latest article A Benchmark for Success: Executive Succession and Leadership Development

 

 

Industry Report: Impact of Digital Transformation on the Patient Life Cycle

By | November 13th, 2017 | Blog, Industry Reports | Add A Comment

 

In a series of interviews with senior executives and thought leaders from around the world, IIC Partners, Furst Group and other members of the IIC Partners’ Healthcare and Life Sciences group, provide an anecdotal look at the impact of digital technologies on healthcare organizations and how it affects patient care.


The insights gathered during these interviews deliver a comprehensive look into how advances in technology are digitizing the industry, and subsequently changing the talent requirements and overall landscape.


Outside of the IT department, many organizations are redefining leadership structures and the types of roles needed to help bridge the gap between data and performance. Some of these modified and newly created roles are:

  • Chief Digital Officer
  • Chief Medical Information Officer
  • Population Health Liaison
  • Data Protection Officer
  • Chief Performance Officer

In addition to exploring the influence on talent management, the report explores the impact of digital transformation on several other aspects of the patient life cycle, including:

  • Patient-Ownership of Health Data
  • Growth Drivers in Population Health Initiatives
  • Evolving Skillsets for Providers
  • Development of Telehealth Programs
  • Cultural Shifts Required for Digital Adaptation

Are you finding similar challenges and trends in your organization? We’d love to hear your thoughts below in the Comments section.


Find out how others are experiencing this impact in the full industry report, “Impact of Digital Transformation on the Patient Life Cycle.”


 

 

Healthcare executive Ruth Brinkley: ‘I’m not retiring’

By | September 29th, 2017 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Photo of Ruth Brinkley

Ruth Brinkley: “This is a very exciting time in health care and I want to be a part of it!””

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare for 2017. Furst Group and NuBrick Partners, which comprise the companies of MPI, sponsor the awards.

 

Respected healthcare executive Ruth Brinkley isn’t sure what’s going to happen next in her career, but she says one thing is certain: “I’m not retiring. This is a very exciting time in healthcare and I want to be a part of it!”

 

Weeks after announcing she was stepping down from her post as CEO of the KentuckyOne Health system, Brinkley said she was looking forward to some R&R before she returned to advise new interim chief executive Chuck Neumann for a couple months.

 

“I’m not even thinking about what I’m going to do next,” she says. “I’m taking some time off for a river cruise in Europe. There’s nothing like water to wash over your soul. It’s the first extended time off I’ve had in a long time.”

 

Brinkley says she will take the last quarter of 2017 to think about what she wants to do next in a lengthy career that has seen her go from a segregated, rural small town in Georgia to multiple honors as one of Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare. But with an eye on the future, she doesn’t have regrets about the KentuckyOne experience as three health systems attempted to merge – St. Joseph Health System, Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare, and the University of Louisville Hospital and James Graham Brown Cancer Center. “The governor did not approve the merger,” Brinkley says. “He didn’t want a state entity being managed by a church organization.”

 

The end result was that St. Joseph and Jewish Hospital merged into KentuckyOne, which operated University Hospital until this year, when university administrators said they wanted to reclaim the reins.

 

“Integrating these organizations into a statewide system was a great vision; it was laudable,” says Brinkley, whose veteran experience was sought after by Catholic Health Initiatives to navigate a complex deal. “At the end of the day, the university wanted to go in a different direction.”

 

While KentuckyOne is in talks to divest Jewish Hospital and other Louisville assets, Brinkley has some advice for her fellow executives as the industry endures a volatile time.

 

“The environment is going to get tougher,” she says. “We know there are going to be significant changes in healthcare, and I believe it’s incumbent on all of us to exercise care and due diligence as we move forward. We are all moving from volume to value, yet, I don’t believe that anyone has quite figured out the full equation to make that work.”

 

And, despite industry initiatives to improve the numbers of diverse executives in the leadership ranks, she believes the climate also is getting tougher on that front.

 

“I am seeing a retrenchment, unfortunately,” she says. “I think women continue to advance in our industry, but I’m not certain about progress for people of color. I believe some of the advancements were made because organizations felt it was important to promote diverse executives to address disparities and equity of care. I’m concerned that I’m seeing some erosion in that area.”

 

Corporate life was far from Brinkley’s thoughts growing up in a small Georgia town. A physician would provide yearly immunizations for children, but Brinkley never had a physical until she went off to college. She was raised by her grandmother, a teacher, who decided that Brinkley should become a nurse.

 

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I went to college, but I didn’t want to be what anyone told me I had to be,” says Brinkley with a laugh. “So, I rebelled against being a nurse.”

 

In time, she came around. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at DePaul University and ascended through the ranks. Health systems are increasingly looking to clinicians to lead organizations as well as medical groups, and Brinkley says her background has been a profound asset for her.

 

“I firmly believe that I am a better leader because of my clinical background and experience,” she says. “I believe that the movement from clinical provider to organizational/enterprise leader is best done progressively, adding additional education and experiences along the way.”

 

But the transition isn’t always as easy as some clinicians think it will be, she warns.

 

“For those who truly desire to lead, it can be a challenge to learn the business and operations language and processes. In order to be successful, it is vital that leaders keep the core business in mind. It is difficult to separate the enterprise from clinical processes and outcomes.”

 

In the same way, she says, it can sometimes be difficult to separate the politics of the day from the healthcare needs of patients.

 

“But I believe in the American spirit. We will figure it out.”

 

 

SIDEBAR: A grandmother’s influence looms large

 

Ruth Brinkley’s first and most powerful role model was her grandmother, who raised her from an infant.

 

“She was 4-foot-11 and not even 100 pounds soaking wet. I was 5-foot-6 by the time I was in sixth grade, but I thought she was a giant,” Brinkley says. “I had great respect for her.”

 

In a time when segregation still plagued the South, and when women were sometimes treated with less than respect, Brinkley’s grandmother taught her many leadership lessons, foremost of which was courage.

 

Although she was a teacher, her husband was a farmer. When Brinkley’s grandfather died, her grandmother could have lost the farm – the crop had been planted but the seed and supplies usually weren’t paid back to the store until the harvest came in.

 

“She didn’t know anything about the business side of the farm,” Brinkley remembers. “She had to quickly learn the business and make sure that people didn’t try to take advantage of her because she was a woman. She would say all the time, ‘I may be little, but I’m not dumb.’ ”

 

Other key lessons, Brinkley says, were these:

 

  • Collaboration. “You can’t really accomplish a lot on your own; you have to build teams. She took in a number of other people’s children, but we were all a part of her family.”
  • Use what you have. “Nobody has all the gifts and all the talents, but you learn to use whatever you have and leverage that.”

 

Brinkley took much of the wisdom she learned from her grandmother and turned it into a children’s book called Grandma Said.

 

“She taught me my worth as a woman and as a woman leader,” Brinkley says. “I’m sure there were times when she must have been afraid and alone, but I never saw her flinch.”

 

 

 

 

Personal experiences drive Susan DeVore’s efforts to transform healthcare from the inside out

By | September 20th, 2017 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Photo of Susan DeVore

Susan DeVore: “Anybody who’s interacted with our healthcare system has experienced the fragmentation, the lack of coordination and the misaligned incentives. It makes it very hard to navigate. ”

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare for 2017. Furst Group and NuBrick Partners, which comprise the companies of MPI, sponsor the awards.

 

Healthcare is personal.

 

Even though Premier Inc. is one the largest and most successful companies in healthcare, focusing on performance improvement, its CEO, Susan DeVore, has personal as well as professional reasons for seeking to transform the healthcare industry.

 

Her mother died of hospital-acquired sepsis, and her grandson had a major health scare in dealing with a severe hip infection that appeared during a hospitalization. She says her family is far from unique in that regard.

 

“Anybody who’s interacted with our healthcare system has experienced the fragmentation, the lack of coordination and the misaligned incentives,” DeVore says. “It makes it very hard to navigate. And when you have people who are vulnerable or fragile and put them in that system, there are opportunities for things to slip through the cracks that can have significant implications. There are things in your life that happen to you that you’ll never forget.”

 

The experiences have left her determined to make a difference in the quality and safety at America’s health institutions, although she maintains that we nonetheless have “tremendous healthcare” in this country.

 

“It does drive me,” she says. “It does keep me focused on the importance of this work. We want to solve problems before they become unsolvable. Premier is doing important work, and to be able to do it in scalable ways across the country for current Americans and future generations are what get me up every day. This is the best possible place that I could be to try to help drive that transformation.”

 

While there is much uncertainty and confusion over the future of healthcare, DeVore says she doesn’t think government is well-suited to steer the changes that are needed; they have to come from within the system.

 

“I don’t think government can solve the challenges. I don’t think insurance companies by themselves can solve the challenges,” she says. “I actually think healthcare has to be reformed and transformed from the inside.”

 

And Premier, which works with more than 3,700 hospitals across the country, handling everything from data analytics to national collaboratives to group purchasing, hopes to accelerate the pace of change in the industry.

 

“We have a big footprint,” admits DeVore. “About 85 percent of our healthcare systems would say we’re a strategic partner or an extension of themselves, as opposed to a vendor of services or technology. And, because we sit inside the healthcare systems, and because we have a tremendous amount of data and insight, we can collaborate and innovate with them, and have them be our test bed for ideas.”

 

That footprint is growing. Premier recently purchased Lincare’s specialty pharma business and also bought two continuum-of-care companies. It has expanded its collaboration with pharmaceutical giant Merck on chronic care and also has launched a partnership with the American Society of Anesthesiologists to test methods to tackle the opioid epidemic. They’ll work to address post-operative pain management in a number of Premier-affiliated hospitals.

 

“We can help advance policy changes and we can help advance how hospitals improve,” DeVore says. “When I came to Premier 13 years ago, I saw this incredible relationship with healthcare systems, with lots of data, and the ability to have an impact that is continuous as opposed to episodic. It’s a model that doesn’t exist in a lot of other places.”

 

The awards that Premier has garnered don’t exist in a lot of other places either. It’s a past winner of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and, for the past 10 years running, has been named one of the world’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute.

 

While Premier has flourished under DeVore’s leadership, she’s nonchalant about her own achievements. During talks with college students (and with her Premier staff as well), she is known to ask them what their superpower is, with the notion that passion unlocks stellar work – and superpowers working together in a team lead to great innovation. But ask her about her own superpower, and there’s nothing flashy about her answer.

 

“I think my superpower is the ability to assimilate and solve puzzles, and navigate around, under and over problems to get to the end goal,” she says. “I’d describe it as a navigation skill. I’m trying to see things that aren’t easy to see and to put the puzzle pieces together in a different way to solve problems or capture opportunities.”

 

With healthcare’s convoluted issues looking like a damaged Rubik’s cube, Premier’s healthcare members are probably glad she’s on the case.

 

 

 

 

Furst Group parent company acquiring Salveson Stetson Group

By | September 15th, 2017 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Furst Group logo SSG logo

 

Salveson Stetson Group, a multi-specialty retained executive search firm that was recently named one of America’s top executive recruiting firms by Forbes, announced today that it has signed a letter of intent to be acquired by Management Partners Inc. (MPI), the parent company of Furst Group and a human capital consulting company based in Rockford, Ill. Following the transaction, which is expected to close by year-end, the firm will continue to operate as SSG under the leadership of co-founders Sally Stetson and John Salveson, who will also take on additional executive responsibilities for MPI.

 

Salveson Stetson Group will join the MPI family of companies, which includes Furst Group, ranked by Modern Healthcare as one of the nation’s top 10 healthcare search firms, and NuBrick Partners, MPI’s leadership consulting company. Together, the three firms will offer clients a wide range of executive search, assessment and leadership solutions.

 

Furst Group and Salveson Stetson Group are both members of IIC Partners, one of the top 10 retained executive search groups in the world with 54 offices in 36 countries.

 

“We are thrilled to be welcoming the Salveson Stetson Group team to the MPI family,” said Bob Clarke, CEO, and Sherrie Barch, President, of MPI. “The firm’s reputation and culture provide a perfect complement to ours. While there is obvious synergy for the work of both firms in healthcare and life sciences, this unlocks many new opportunities and industries for all of us. We envision a future that is much greater than the sum of our parts.”

 

“When we met MPI’s Bob Clarke and Sherrie Barch as new members of IIC Partners, we knew immediately that they were exceptional leaders and business people,” said Stetson. “We realized that joining forces would strengthen both of our firms, drive new business growth and expand our reach and capabilities.”

 

“By joining with MPI, Salveson Stetson Group becomes a much richer resource to our clients,” said Salveson. “We are excited to have the opportunity to offer our clients a broader set of talent and leadership development solutions through adding NuBrick Partners’ and Furst Group’s capabilities to our portfolio of services.”

 

IIC Partners’ Executive Director Christine Hayward cheered the move. “This demonstrates the true partnership and compatibility that our member firms enjoy,” she said. “I’m proud that IIC Partners is helping our members innovate and grow strategically in a rapidly changing marketplace.”

 

 

 

 

Staying independent – Christine Candio outlines three key questions for stand-alone hospitals

By | August 31st, 2017 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Photo of Christine Candio

Christine Candio: “We are collaborators, which enables us to continue enhancing the services we provide our patients to improve the health of the community.”

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare for 2017. Furst Group and NuBrick Partners, which comprise the companies of MPI, sponsor the awards.

 

In an interview with Christine Candio, President and CEO of St. Luke’s Hospital, the former ACHE chair talked with us about the independent course that St. Luke’s has chosen to maintain. According to Candio, being independent keeps the organization flexible, which she highlighted with a reference to a nostalgic, beloved TV duo.

 

“We best serve our patients being nimble and responsive to our community’s needs. You have to be like Gumby and Pokey – bendable and pliable. We have that here.”

 

Candio goes on to say that it’s imperative that independent healthcare organizations continually evaluate performance and objectives in an effort to deliver outstanding quality. As part of this evaluation, she suggests three questions that should be considered:

 

“Do you have the essentials to remain independent? Do you have collaborations and partnerships? Are you trying to be all things to all people?”

 

Candio says that it’s important to reflect on these questions as you assess the value of remaining independent. Find out more about Candio’s leadership philosophies in the full article.

 

 

 

Furst Group adds industry veteran Megan Heim as vice president

By | August 15th, 2017 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Megan Heim

 

Furst Group, a premier healthcare executive search firm, announces the expansion of its senior-executive team with the addition of Megan Heim, who is based in the burgeoning healthcare hub of Nashville, as vice president.

 

Heim joins the firm from with more than 20 years of experience in healthcare and consulting solutions.

 

“Megan Heim is well-known throughout healthcare as a thoughtful and innovative client-management executive and talent advisor,” says Furst Group President Sherrie Barch. “We are looking forward to watching her impact the industry with wisdom and integrity as we help our client partners develop their leadership teams.”

 

Heim brings extensive business and healthcare experience and has advised clients on hundreds of successful engagements including CEO, CFO, CNO, VP of Development, VPHR, Controller, clinical leadership roles, and many other senior-level positions.

 

Previously, Heim served as a division vice president for a top healthcare leadership services firm where she worked closely with many nationally recognized organizations to provide talent management and retained search services. For several years prior to that, Heim was a senior director at Optum Executive Health Resources where she partnered with hospital executives to ensure and improve compliance and financial performance. Heim also spent eight years with the industry’s largest healthcare research and advisory firm (The Advisory Board Company), where she held various roles from associate director to principal.

 

Furst Group is part of the companies of MPI. Its affiliate firm, NuBrick Partners, assists clients with leadership consulting, ranging from physician executive development to CEO and board services.

 

 

 

 

Hard work a key to Sally Hurt-Deitch’s quick ascent

By | July 31st, 2017 | Blog | Add A Comment

 

Sally Hurt-Deitch: “People want healthcare in their community. They don’t want to drive 20 or 30 minutes to receive care.”

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare for 2017. Furst Group and NuBrick Partners, which comprise the companies of MPI, sponsor the awards.

 

The career trajectory for Sally Hurt-Deitch was set early – so it’s no surprise to see her as the Market CEO for The Hospitals of Providence, the Tenet Health system that dominates the El Paso market.

 

At her first job, fresh from earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing, Hurt-Deitch’s boss was close to retirement. So, on top of learning endoscopy and the operating room, and in addition to learning instrumentation and learning how to circulate, her supervisor put her to work on a host of other duties.

 

“She would come to me and say, ‘Sally, you’re young. You know this stuff. You just graduated from college. Go and do this for me,’ ” Hurt-Deitch remembers.

 

Her nursing preceptors told the bewildered rookie, “Just go do it.”

 

Thus, by the end of her first year, in addition to doing cases and being a clinical nurse, Hurt-Deitch got a crash course in how to run every aspect of a department.

 

“I was doing her payroll and her scheduling,” Hurt-Deitch says. “I’d done her operating budget and her capital budget. I had rewritten all of her policies and procedures. I’d gone through a Joint Commission survey and I was doing all of her Performance Improvement and Quality Improvement.”

 

An amazing story, yes? It gets better.

 

When Hurt-Deitch’s boss retired, a group of physicians went to the CEO of the hospital with a request: “We want Sally to be the new director.”

 

The CEO called her into his office.

 

“How old are you?”

 

“23.”

 

“I don’t know about this. I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you 6 months. Let’s see what you can do.”

 

Hurt-Deitch sailed through the tryout. She became the assistant chief nursing office two years later and, by the age of 27, she was the CNO.

 

“When my nursing boss retired, I never even thought, ‘I want this position.’ ” Hurt-Deitch notes. “It grew very fast.”

 

Hurt-Deitch was born and raised in the El Paso area and, except for a short period when she left to work in Oklahoma, has watched the region grow from a close-up vantage point. Healthcare is personal to her, an attitude that developed unconsciously when she was a child.

 

At the age of 10, her mother nearly died from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, an autoimmune disease in which the person’s body destroys its own platelets and thus, the ability for the blood to clot.

 

“My father was amazing,” Hurt-Deitch says. “He would sneak us up a back staircase at the hospital so we could go see her. He was a football coach and I can remember my mom doing her exercises with my dad coaching her: ‘You’re going to do this. You’re going to come back.’ Watching how he acted around her was very inspiring to me. I had a deep desire to care for people. I think my mother and her experience provided a lot of fuel for that fire, but I think nursing inherently was my calling.”

 

Hurt-Deitch got to see her mother completely come back from the disease, and her mom has had a front-row view to see her daughter become one of the powerful Latino executives in the country.

 

The El Paso region is unique in that it is still a border community, one whose economy is still very much based on homeownership as opposed to another economic driver. But Tenet itself has invested more than $1 billion into El Paso in the last 10 years, and Hurt-Deitch says the county has a consumer mindset to healthcare that is no different than the rest of the U.S.

 

“We are the community choice for healthcare, which is a hugely positive thing – we have about 50 percent of the total market share,” she says. “But people want healthcare in their community. They don’t want to drive 20 or 30 minutes to receive care. They want it right around the corner. The days of having a family physician and going every year for your checkup are disappearing. So, you’re seeing the free-standing ERs and the urgent-care centers proliferating because people are wanting to be treated per health episode, not for their long-term health needs.”

 

As the Market CEO, Hurt-Deitch oversees the CEOs who lead the three Providence hospitals and one micro-hospital. And, like her early years in healthcare, she utilizes some unorthodox ideas to develop her team.

 

“We trade positions. One month a year, I will leave and become the CEO of one of our other hospitals. The other CEOs will do the same,” she says. “We can identify a lot of best practices this way. It also helps us to establish stronger relationships with our medical staff and the other directors. At the same time, we may have instances where we need each other to step in and run a meeting for us in our absence.”

 

In doing so, Hurt-Deitch is infusing her leadership team with the same type of liberty she experienced as a rising star in her 20s.

 

“I have to be open to listening to them and accepting what they’re saying and allowing them enough freedom to do what they need to do in their hospitals,” she says. “You can look at The Hospitals of Providence and look at the results. What it would show you is a team that is connecting with the community from every standpoint.”

 

 

SIDEBAR: Embracing cultural diversity: A personal story

 

 

At the recent 2017 Congress presented by the American College of Healthcare Executives, Sally Hurt-Deitch was part of a panel on “Building An Inclusive Culture: Whose Job Is It?” Her years in El Paso, a predominantly Hispanic region, and her experiences as a healthcare executive gave her plenty of points to ponder.

 

“El Paso creates this very interesting dynamic because it is a minority-majority community,” she says. “When you’re raised in a minority community, you’re not raised to see color. Your friends were your friends. It was a very inclusive environment, and I was not exposed to anything different until I left El Paso.”

 

Being looked at differently because of her ethnicity happened when Hurt-Deitch took a job in another state with a large Native American population. At her first meeting with her governing board, one of the directors asked her, “So, what tribe are you from?”

 

Everyone in the room was a bit stunned and Hurt-Deitch managed to say, “Excuse me?”

 

“Yeah,” the trustee went on. “Are you Cherokee? Choctaw? Chippewa?”

 

“There was no malice in it,” Hurt-Deitch says. “He wasn’t trying to malign me in any way. And I laughed and said, ‘I’m from the tribe of Mexicans. We’re from way south of here.’ But there was also a part of me that thought, ‘Who says something like that?’

 

“I don’t think I ever fully embraced the true meaning of cultural diversity until that point in time.”

 

 

 

 

Diversity fuels Karen Lynch’s leadership at Aetna

By | July 24th, 2017 | Blog | 21 Comments

 

Karen Lynch: “I have a perspective of optimism, and the glass is always half-full.”

 

One in a series of interviews with Modern Healthcare’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare for 2017. Furst Group and NuBrick Partners, which comprise the companies of MPI, sponsor the awards.

 

A commitment to diversity usually starts at the top of an organization, and Aetna President Karen Lynch is pleased that her employer is routinely recognized for the fact that its board is 40 percent female. But she knows there is more to be done.

 

“If you look at the studies that have been published, 73 percent of medical and health services managers in the U.S. are women, but only 4 percent of healthcare CEOs are women. So, clearly, we have some growth to move forward on,” she says.

 

But her thinking goes beyond gender diversity.

 

“When I think about diversity, it’s also about ethnic diversity. It’s about ‘Do we have diversity with veterans and LGBT and multigenerational, multicultural talent?’ I think there’s more to be done there as well.”

 

Make no mistake, though – Lynch is “quite proud” to be the first female president of Aetna.

 

“It’s such a great honor,” she says, but quickly adds, “As you can imagine, I didn’t get here by myself.”

 

Healthcare executives often talk about the importance of mentors and sponsors in their career. Lynch points to one from her childhood as a foundation for success in life – the aunt who raised Lynch and her three siblings after Lynch’s mom committed suicide. Lynch was 12 at the time.

 

“My aunt grew up in the Depression,” Lynch remembers. “Her parents came over from Poland. They were ailing, and she took care of them. She worked in a factory her entire life. Her husband passed away early on. She took care of her only son, and then she took on the responsibility of all four of us.”

 

Lynch says her aunt – and life itself – helped imbue her with resilience and a positive, constructive attitude. She says she met her father once, but does not regret his absence. “I think it’s made me the strong person I am today. I have a perspective of optimism, and the glass is always half-full.”

 

When Lynch was in her 20s, her aunt died from emphysema and breast and lung cancer, the result of heavy cigarette smoking. Nonetheless, her positive impact on Lynch had already been formed.

 

“My aunt was a very strong woman,” Lynch recalls. “She didn’t let anything get in her way. She instilled values in us like, ‘You can do anything that you set your mind to. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything.’ ”

 

Her influence is evident in Lynch’s career arc. And it was, in part, her aunt’s illness that led her ultimately to a career in healthcare after a stint as an auditor for Ernst + Young.

 

“I remember sitting in her hospital room thinking, ‘I don’t know what questions to ask the doctors. I don’t know what to do to care for her,’ ” Lynch says. “I’ve made it my life mission now to bring the services to individuals so they can answer those questions when someone’s in need. Or, better yet, how do we keep people healthy in the first place?”

 

Lynch leads by example in that vein. She is a lifelong runner, although she has added spinning to her regimen to ease the pounding on her knees.

 

“If I’m going to run a healthcare company and advocate health, it’s important for me to remain healthy.”

 

Lynch says her training at Ernst + Young prepared her for leadership in two ways.

 

“One important lesson I learned was how to be an effective communicator with people at all levels of an organization,” she says. “When you’re an auditor, you have to talk with the most senior leaders of an organization as well as the front-line people. I had to learn quickly how to adapt my communication style.”

 

She also learned how to take opportunities as they emerged, she says.

 

“When you’re in public accounting, you’re thrust into situations that are uncomfortable and uncertain, and you have to quickly adapt and be flexible,” Lynch says. “I think those skills are equally important as a senior executive, because you never know what might come your way on any given day.”

 

Lynch and her organization have had to deal with a lot of uncertainty over the past year as the potential merger of Aetna and Humana fell through. The experience, however, hasn’t altered the company’s strategy, she says.

 

“Humana would have helped to accelerate our strategy, but that strategy remains the same – to be consumer-focused, transforming relationships with providers, focusing on the local community and building the next generation of talent,” she says.

 

Lynch says health insurers in general need to own their mistakes, but adds that payers don’t promote themselves enough in regard to the positive outcomes they quietly foster among their members. She recounts the story of one female college student she worked with who was anorexic. Lynch’s organization helped the young woman get into a treatment facility. She got help, returned to school and graduated from college. She signed up with Teach for America and has gone on to have a successful career.

 

“Those are the kinds of things we do that no one knows we do,” Lynch says.

 

“Maybe we’re too modest, but we need to tell our story because we are doing some phenomenal things across the nation.”

 

 

SIDEBAR: U.S. health includes mental health

 

 

Aetna President Karen Lynch has always been quite active in charity work. That stems, in part, from her aunt who raised Lynch and her three siblings after their mother committed suicide.

 

“My aunt talked about and instilled in us the importance of giving back,” Lynch says today.

 

She says she sees the importance of that in her work every day.

 

“I have a passion for holistic healthcare and taking care of the whole person,” she says, “because with every chronic condition, many people are also suffering from a mental health condition. There are a lot of co-morbid diagnoses.”

 

Her mother informs that passion as well.

 

“Because my mom died by suicide, I believe very strongly in promoting mental health awareness and making sure people have access to the services that they need.”

 

Lynch found a strong partner in that endeavor in her husband Kevin, who founded the Quell Foundation two years ago to eradicate the stigma of mental health disorders.

 

“He gives scholarships to children who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and also to kids who want to go to college to work in the field of psychiatry or psychology. And I personally fund the scholarship for kids who have lost a parent through suicide.”

 

This year, the Quell Foundation will provide $200,000 in scholarships to young people across the country. It’s one more motivation Lynch cites for doing what she does in her career.

 

“I get up every single morning,” she says, “trying to think about how we can have a positive impact on people’s lives and make this healthcare system better.”

 

 

 

 

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