Dr. Alastair Bell, 38,
Chief operating officer Boston Medical Center
When Dr. Alastair Bell arrived at Boston Medical Center almost three years ago, the hospital was dealing with a $175 million deficit and a possible bankruptcy.
Bell was in charge of implementing a strategic plan to turn around the academic medical center. The plan was successful and BMC has since reported financial surpluses as well as significant improvements in clinical quality scores.
“He’s got a brilliant ability to conceptualize and address very tricky problems,” said Joe Camillus, BMC’s vice president of ambulatory operations and professional services.
Bell didn’t start out as an operations guy. He attended the University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine and the University of Oxford Medical School in the U.K. and later underwent house officer training—similar to a medical residency path in the U.S.—in Glasgow. It was there that Bell, who is Scottish, first saw the differences in the views of hospital administrators and clinicians. “There was a communication gap between the two,” he said.
So Bell moved to Boston, earned an MBA at Harvard and joined McKinsey and Co., where he served as an associate principal for about five years. Along the way he and his wife, who is also Scottish, decided to make a home in the U.S.
“There was a lot of interesting work in the U.S., and the healthcare system was going through a lot of change and upheaval,” Bell said. “It’s a fascinating environment to work in at the moment.”
BMC, a 454-bed hospital serving Boston’s South End, is unique. Nearly one in five families in the South End has an income level below the poverty rate. About 40% of the hospital’s patients are covered by Medicaid or Medicare. The hospital is also within three miles of four other academic medical centers.
“The challenges here sometimes feel overwhelming,” Camillus said. “Alastair helped us think through our role in the competitive landscape and the things we do well and capitalize on those things.”
FIRST ADULT JOB:
Working as an English
teacher in Tanzania
KNOWN FOR: Wearing a
Scottish kilt to Boston
Medical Center’s formal
ANOTHER DOCTOR IN
THE HOUSE: His wife is a
dermatologist at Brigham
and Women’s Hospital in