Michael Kasper

Modern Healthcare - - SPECIAL FEATURE - —An­dis Robeznieks

Whether it’s rolling out an elec­tronic health record, re­cruit­ing physi­cian prac­tices into the group or per­suad­ing ex­ec­u­tives from a lo­cal hospi­tal to form a joint ven­ture and then get­ting his physi­cian team to buy into the con­cept, Michael Kasper has a rep­u­ta­tion for pulling peo­ple to­gether to work on a com­mon goal. Kasper has been CEO of DuPage Med­i­cal Group, a 365-doc­tor, in­de­pen­dent physi­cian group since Septem­ber 2010, mak­ing the jump to the provider side af­ter an early ca­reer as a health in­sur­ance com­pany ex­ec­u­tive. The group serves parts of the western sub­urbs in metropoli­tan Chicago. His in­sur­ance ca­reer in­cluded a stint as pres­i­dent and CEO of Coven­try Health Care of Louisiana, where he im­ple­mented a post-Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina re­cov­ery plan.

Most re­cently, Kasper en­gi­neered the for­ma­tion of Illi­nois Health Part­ners, a joint ven­ture with Ed­ward Hospi­tal in Naperville, to man­age 100,000 HMO pa­tients. Den­nis Fine, DuPage Med­i­cal’s chief oper­at­ing of­fi­cer, has worked with Kasper dur­ing both ca­reer stages, in­clud­ing in 2000 when they were both at Aetna U.S. Health­care in At­lanta. “I’ve never had so much fun work­ing with a guy while work­ing so hard,” Fine says. “He’s still ex­tremely driven and a very re­sults-ori­ented guy, but he’s calmer, more ma­ture and more me­thod­i­cal—a lot of that comes with age, but also with ex­pe­ri­ence and find­ing the best ways to deal with peo­ple.”

This in­cludes us­ing a tal­ent for pub­lic speak­ing while mix­ing data and a pas­sion to per­suade peo­ple to fo­cus on a com­mon vi­sion—such as per­suad­ing physi­cians that form­ing a joint ven­ture with a com­pet­ing hospi­tal is a good idea. While pre­sent­ing what he thought was pos­i­tive news to a group of physi­cians at a quar­terly share­hold­ers meet­ing, Kasper says that he still felt skep­ti­cism about the joint ven­ture with Ed­ward Hospi­tal and that “there was still a lot of cu­rios­ity.”

“I said, ‘I know I come across as a bull­dog, but I’m your bull­dog,’ ” Kasper re­calls, adding that it seemed to be the right thing to say to calm the doc­tors’ con­cerns, though they weren’t the first to view the ar­range­ment with skep­ti­cism. Kasper first had to per­suade Ed­ward CEO Pamela Davis—best known for work­ing with the FBI in its probe of cor­rup­tion in the state cer­tifi­cate-of-need process.

“She looked at me and said, ‘You’re our big­gest com­peti­tor,’ ” Kasper re­calls.

Brian Davis (no re­la­tion to Pamela Davis), vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing and gov­ern­ment re­la­tions at Ed­ward, con­firms the story. “Af­ter that ini­tial meet­ing, we thought we could make some­thing work,” he says. “But we walked into those meet­ings with an open mind—we didn’t walk into those meet­ings just to talk with Mike.”

Kasper says the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Ed­ward were the most col­lab­o­ra­tive he’s ever worked on, with the fo­cus on bet­ter­ing community health and “not get­ting bogged down with minu­tia.”

“I’ve never had so much fun work­ing with a guy while work­ing so hard.”

40, Pres­i­dent and CEO, St. Joseph’s Hospi­tal, Breese, Ill.

40, CEO, DuPage Med­i­cal Group, Down­ers Grove, Ill.

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