Big­gest dif­fer­ence for young ex­ecs is em­brac­ing so­cial me­dia

Modern Healthcare - - Q&A -

For just over a year, Terika Richard­son has been CEO at Retreat Doc­tors’ Hos­pi­tal, a 227-bed HCA fa­cil­ity in Rich­mond, Va., and the old­est hos­pi­tal in the city, dat­ing to 1877.

It’s an acute­care fa­cil­ity, in­clud­ing emer­gency ser­vices, but with a pri­mary ser­vice line in urol­ogy. Richard­son has been work­ing at HCA fa­cil­i­ties for 10 years. Be­fore join­ing Retreat Doc­tors’ Hos­pi­tal, she was in­terim CEO and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer at HCA’s Spot­syl­va­nia Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Fred­er­icks­burg, Va. Mod­ern Health­care Man­ag­ing Edi­tor Har­ris Meyer re­cently spoke with Richard­son about the unique chal­lenges fac­ing young CEOs, the im­por­tance of di­ver­sity in health­care or­ga­ni­za­tions, and the po­lit­i­cal battle over Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion in Vir­ginia. This is an edited tran­script.

Mod­ern Health­care: How did you get into the health­care busi­ness?

Terika Richard­son:

I al­ways wanted to be in health­care and in the hos­pi­tal realm. As an un­der­grad, I grav­i­tated more to­ward man­age­ment and busi­ness and toyed at one point with be­com­ing a physi­cian. Then I found the School of Public Health at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan and it was a def­i­nite gamechanger for me be­cause it com­bined the busi­ness and clin­i­cal set­ting that I was look­ing for. I left Michi­gan af­ter grad­u­ate school and went to North Shore-Long Is­land Jewish Health Sys­tem in New York, where I had an ad­min­is­tra­tive fel­low­ship. Af­ter I worked there awhile, I came to HCA.

MH: Does HCA have a men­tor­ship pro­gram for young ex­ec­u­tives like you?


I had the plea­sure of be­ing a part of HCA’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer devel­op­ment pro­gram, and it def­i­nitely was a cat­a­lyst in my ca­reer. When you have those op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with some of the great thinkers within hos­pi­tal man­age­ment and learn from them, it def­i­nitely en­riches your per­spec­tive.

MH: Has it been a lit­tle scary to take over in your first CEO po­si­tion?


I didn’t feel afraid. It a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause you rec­og­nize there are hun­dreds of peo­ple who are count­ing on this or­ga­ni­za­tion for their liveli­hood, and it is hum­bling to rec­og­nize that the de­ci­sions I and my team make have an im­pact on that. I be­lieve in ser­vant lead­er­ship, so I am here to sup­port them. I am here to make sure they have what they need to do their jobs well. Any­thing that stands in their way of pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent care, it is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­move that bar­rier.

MH: What have been some of the most in­ter­est­ing un­ex­pected chal­lenges you have faced as a CEO?


One of the things I of­ten un­der­es­ti­mate is that ev­ery hos­pi­tal has its own unique story. It’s the peo­ple who make up a fa­cil­ity. Mak­ing sure you un­der­stand that dy­namic and that you un­der­stand the cul­ture is so im­por­tant. It’s mak­ing sure that when you walk through the door, it is not about your agenda. How do we en­sure the le­gacy of this fa­cil­ity lives on? How do we en­sure that the great work be­ing done is un­der­stood and ap­pre­ci­ated by the com­mu­nity we serve? How do we tell the story and make sure our com­mu­nity un­der­stands who we are and what we stand for?

MH: Can you give ex­am­ples of how you’ve been work­ing to make your hos­pi­tal more ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive?


A lot of our fo­cus has been on OR ef­fi­ciency, mak­ing sure we are as stream­lined as pos­si­ble, cre­at­ing a great ex­pe­ri­ence for sur­geons. I think ev­ery CEO, ev­ery op­er­at­ing team, is fo­cused on those things. But it is so im­por­tant in a smaller fa­cil­ity when you are of­ten­times given one shot with a sur­geon. A lot of sur­geons spend a lot of time at some of the larger shops, and so to court a physi­cian in a smaller fa­cil­ity can be a chal­lenge.

A lot of our fo­cus is on how we de­liver ser­vice, not only to the pa­tient but also to the physi­cian. We have done some great things in that space with our turn­around times, look­ing at how we stream­line that process.

I had a sur­geon come up to me—a new sur­geon who we’ve courted and fi­nally got him over to our OR.

He told me, “Quite frankly, you guys nailed it. In my world, as a sur­geon, time is money and it is the most valu­able thing that I have.”

MH: What is your hos­pi­tal’s payer mix?


We are one of two hos­pi­tals within HCA in Rich­mond. We have more of an ur­ban mix. We see quite a bit of Medi­care and Med­i­caid. As we at­tract dif­fer­ent sur­geons and dif­fer­ent providers, we are start­ing to see that com­mer­cial payer side change and in­crease as well.

MH: What was it like for you to lobby the Vir­ginia Leg­is­la­ture to ex­pand Med­i­caid?


Re­gard­less of whether a pa­tient has the abil­ity to pay, we will take care of that pa­tient. It is very im­por­tant to every­body who is a hos­pi­tal provider in Vir­ginia to make sure our pa­tients are cov­ered and that they can seek health­care ser­vices when they need them. We are con­stantly try­ing to get in front of our leg­is­la­tors and in front of our reg­u­la­tory of­fi­cials to make sure they un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions of not ex­pand­ing Med­i­caid.

Un­for­tu­nately, with­out ac­cess to care and the abil­ity to pay for it, some­times the way pa­tients seek care is in our emer­gency room.

MH: What are your pre­dic­tions about win­ning over Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors on Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion?


What I usu­ally hear about are the bud­get con­straints and the un­cer­tainty of whether Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion would be funded from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment into the fu­ture. How do we bal­ance the bud­get? That’s the piece that pre­vents a lot of peo­ple from sup­port­ing it. I was just re­minded that even though Med­i­caid has not been ex­panded in Vir­ginia, Med­i­caid ex­pen­di­tures within the state still have grown dur­ing the past decade from 5% to 21% of the bud­get.

When I think about the fea­si­bil­ity of ex­pan­sion in Vir­ginia, I don’t know if there is tremen­dous sup­port around this is­sue.

MH: Are you see­ing progress in di­ver­si­fy­ing health­care lead­er­ship?


Ab­so­lutely. When we look at all of the hos­pi­tal com­pa­nies and we look at in­dus­try in gen­eral, di­ver­sity of lead­er­ship is prob­a­bly a bul­let point on every­body’s strate­gic plan and agenda.

We want to make sure we have di­ver­sity of thought in our de­ci­sion­mak­ing and within our ranks to re­flect the com­mu­ni­ties we serve.

Most im­por­tantly, it is vi­tal that we make sure di­ver­sity is not just about gen­der or race. It re­ally is about mak­ing sure we have peo­ple around the ta­ble who all have like-minded goals but bring dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences.

MH: As part of the younger gen­er­a­tion of hos­pi­tal lead­ers, what skills and lead­er­ship traits do you bring that dif­fer from the older gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers?


I don’t know that I see a dif­fer­ence in ap­proach. What I no­tice more is that so­cial me­dia has be­come a very real com­po­nent of our busi­ness. And em­brac­ing that has been some­thing that not only my­self, but also my col­leagues take very se­ri­ously. If you’re not on so­cial me­dia, as a com­pany, as an in­dus­try, it is truly a dis­ad­van­tage.

So that is some­thing I see as the big­gest dif­fer­ence, just how we em­brace tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia and in­cor­po­rate it re­spon­si­bly into our or­ga­ni­za­tion.

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