Michelle Horn­berger

Modern Healthcare - - SPECIAL FEATURE - —Ashok Sel­vam

Es­teemed philoso­pher and for­mer base­ball great Yogi Berra might say Michelle Horn­berger’s ca­reer path in the mid-’90s pre­sented her with the prover­bial “fork in the road” as she mulled choices be­tween pur­su­ing med­i­cal school and work­ing as a hospi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tor. And she took it. Horn­berger’s fond­ness for sci­ence brought her to Cen­tral Michi­gan Univer­sity in Mount Pleas­ant, where she com­pleted an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in bi­ol­ogy and med­i­cal tech­nol­ogy. She later gained ex­pe­ri­ence as a med­i­cal tech­nol­o­gist at Henry Ford Health Sys­tem in Detroit. De­spite her suc­cess, she wasn’t sold on that ca­reer fo­cus.

Horn­berger re­calls when she made her de­ci­sion to switch to ad­min­is­tra­tion. She ul­ti­mately re­al­ized that in­sur­ance com­pa­nies can hin­der a doc­tor’s abil­ity to de­liver care, and that she could bet­ter uti­lize her tal­ents serv­ing in ex­ec­u­tive roles.

“I re­mem­ber speak­ing with some physi­cians. There was frus­tra­tion—they were go­ing and get­ting an in­cred­i­ble ed­u­ca­tion and be­ing taught how to treat the pa­tient, only to be told by the HMO and in­sur­ance com­pany what they could and couldn’t do in terms of what would be cov­ered,” she says. “I re­ally didn’t want to go that route.” She soon found her­self en­rolled in the Mas­ter of Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­gram at Univer­sity of Michi­gan. And while she says her imag­i­na­tion oc­ca­sion­ally drifts through the dif­fer­ent ca­reer paths she could have taken, the 39-year-old says she’s more than pleased with the out­comes of her choices. Since 2006, she’s served 244-bed Crit­ten­ton Hospi­tal Med­i­cal Cen­ter as chief strat­egy of­fi­cer. She’s also the chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer at Crit­ten­ton Home Care, a post she took last year. “I’ve been very happy with the choices I’ve made,” Horn­berger says. “For­tu­nately, I’ve been fairly lucky that other peo­ple also thought those choices were worth it.”

Be­fore Crit­ten­ton, she served as an as­so­ciate in strate­gic plan­ning at Ge­nesys Health Sys­tem in Grand Blanc, Mich., which is an af­fil­i­ate of the Catholic sys­tem As­cen­sion Health. She also worked as as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate plan­ning for Beaumont Hos­pi­tals, Royal Oak, Mich.

Though she’s worked at larger com­pa­nies and hos­pi­tals in big­ger com­mu­ni­ties, Horn­berger says she’s up for the dif­fer­ent chal­lenges at Crit­ten­ton. One of her big­gest ac­com­plish­ments was launch­ing a mar­ket­ing cam­paign in 2007, which helped in­crease the hospi­tal’s pre­vi­ously dwin­dling mar­ket share.

“We don’t have as deep pock­ets as many of the other health sys­tems, so we have to be as savvy as we can with the dol­lars we have,” she says.

“I’ve been very happy with the choices I’ve made. ... I’ve been fairly lucky that other peo­ple also thought those choices were worth it.”

39, chief strat­egy of­fi­cer, Crit­ten­ton Hospi­tal Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Rochester, Mich.

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