"The Ronan Report" provides insight about the activities at the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, and about the changes taking place in healthcare today from a CEO's perspective.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

As you know, I read the newsletter from Fierce Healthcare, which writes each day on a variety of issues in health care.  A recent article about the five traits of the ideal healthcare CEO caught my attention and I responded with a blog post, which was published last week.  

Adding credence to the ideal traits of a healthcare CEO

June 25th, 2015 
by Barry Ronan
Last week, I read the FierceHealthcare article, "5 traits of the ideal healthcare CEO." I am here to tell you that the article, which was based on a recent Hospitals and Health Networks article, was right on the money. As CEO of the Western Maryland Health System in Cumberland, Maryland, I am beginning my fifth year under value-based care delivery, and I have certainly had to adjust my approach to managing under a new care delivery model.
Taking the five traits one by one, I offer the following insights based on my experience:
Embrace Change: The change has been amazing in that I, along with my management team, our staff and our physicians, have had to virtually re-learn every aspect of care delivery under a global budget. We are partnering with everyone, even those who were previously our competitors, and we try to keep the patient at the center of everything that we do.
Clinical Competence: I don't have a clinical background, but I have a great team of clinicians around me advising me every step of the way. I created the President's Clinical Quality Council, consisting of 12 physician champions--our early adopters and our movers and shakers. I also created the Triple Aim Coordinating Council, consisting of physicians, executives, directors, nurses and IT experts. The council provides oversight of every aspect of value-based care delivery. Whether it's the many initiatives that we have put in place, our partnerships or new programs and services, this group makes sure that if we say that we are delivering value-based care, that we deliver that care. I will say that I have never understood the care delivery process as well as I do today as a result of delivering care based on value.
Use Data to Drive Strategy: The amount of data and IT systems now available are truly amazing. Previously, we received data months after the fact; now it real time so we can be proactive with our patients, especially our high utilizers (the sickest of the sick).
Agile Managers: Over time our staff and physicians have embraced our new care delivery model. We did resort to mandatory education for all employees and that continues today. The shift from volume-based care based on a fee-for-service payment methodology has been a dramatic departure from the care that we now deliver. Our goal now is caring for patients the right way from the start so they are not being readmitted, having unnecessary testing or visiting the emergency department needlessly. We have many initiatives in place to ensure that we are making a difference in the lives of our patients.
Focus on Finances: The state of Maryland made the financial part somewhat easier for us in that we became part of a demonstration project that began in 2011. After one challenging year financially, we have had three financially successful years. We have also joined two other health systems in our region in an alliance to maximize additional savings through shared services.
Being the CEO of a health system that is truly making a difference though an elevated standard of care has resulted in probably the most exciting time in my healthcare career that has spanned 40 years.

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