As the new President and CEO of RWJBarnabas Health, what key step will you take to improve patient safety and quality across your system?
The most important part about our high reliability organization journey is the continued engagement of our employees. We want all of our doctors and nurses and staff on the front lines to be empowered to make the right decisions to achieve the best outcomes for our patients. We must focus on the areas where we can have the most impact, including ensuring zero preventable harm. We have invested a great deal on this — and will continue to do so.
How does your previous experience as an attorney working with health care clients inform your role?
I practiced law for 22 years, representing health care providers on transactions and regulatory matters, including physician groups, hospitals, health systems, private equity sponsors investing in the health care sector, insurance companies in connection with benefit design, publicly traded entities…a variety of individuals participating in the health care sector. It provided a unique vantage point to see trends at an early stage. I have seen themes emerge. You have a number of organizations trying to become enterprises capable of bearing risk, if you will. To do that, you need to create a highly integrated, seamless patient experience. Practicing law provided a great deal of insight into where the industry is trending in this space.
Looking ahead five years, can you name one area where we can expect to see change in health care?
A notable trend that we’ve experienced over the last five years resulted from pressure on the health care industry to reduce the cost of care, which has led to the migration of care from the acute care environment to ambulatory facilities; from ambulatory facilities to the physician practice office; and from the physician practice office to the home or technology-based environments. The impact this trend is having on the industry is significant. And I expect that trend will continue apace for the foreseeable future.
I think patients are becoming much more sophisticated shoppers in their ability to assess quality and cost; the ability to understand and navigate insurance benefit programs; and the various financial incentives to drive value in the provision of care. I think there is some good here. The flip side is that we’re starting to see dislocation in the marketplace. For example, there’s a lot of pressure right now on acute care businesses. Transitioning from our current system of care to the future system of care will result in additional dislocation and, as hospital operators, we must manage this very carefully.
What is RWJBarnabas Health doing to attract and retain the workforce you will need for today and the future?
It’s a significant challenge. I think our colleagues across the industry would agree. At RWJBarnabas Health, we’ve been very focused on creating and enhancing the experience for our workforce. We offer an unparalleled scope of clinical opportunities, and we’re investing in resources and programming through our Center of Professional Development, Innovation and Research that will increase and enhance our training of health professionals in all kinds of varied clinical environments.
If you look at our academic partnership with Rutgers, we are working to expand our education and research mission with the goal of not only doubling our research portfolio, but of training the clinicians and caregivers of tomorrow. This is particularly important considering the anticipated shortages over the coming years. We have a large, complex, compelling organization that offers unrivaled flexibility and opportunities for folks to come in at an entry level, get exposed to all kinds of different programs and facilities, and take advantage of upward mobility opportunities across the entirety of our network.
We like to ask a more personal question for our readers to get to know you. Who is your favorite musical or literary artist from New Jersey?
I always enjoy reading pieces like this. And when you are asked, “Are you a Bruce, Bon Jovi, or Frank Sinatra person,” I can say I am unequivocally a devotee of Old Blue Eyes.