Lead­ing a shift in how health­care providers and cus­tomers re­late

Modern Healthcare - - NEWS - By David Royse

Mack Ho­gans and the com­pany whose gov­ern­ing board he leads, Cam­bia Health So­lu­tions, are rooted in the same place—Amer­ica’s tim­ber­lands. Ho­gans spent a ca­reer in forestry, work­ing his way up from forester to se­nior vice pres­i­dent at the huge for­est prod­ucts com­pany Wey­er­haeuser. He re­tired af­ter 25 years in 2004.

Port­land, Ore.-based Cam­bia’s back­ground is also in the tim­ber stands of the Pa­cific North­west.

To­day, in ad­di­tion to its core health in­surance busi­ness, Cam­bia in­cludes a fam­ily of com­pa­nies that of­fer a va­ri­ety of di­rect-to-cus­tomer ser­vices. Its pre­de­ces­sor com­pany, how­ever, be­gan in 1917 in the log­ging camps and tim­ber mill towns of Wash­ing­ton state, when log­gers pooled money to pay med­i­cal costs for fel­low work­ers in the dan­ger­ous in­dus­try.

But that’s about all Ho­gans and the com­pany that would be­come Cam­bia had in com­mon when he joined the board in 2002.

Ho­gans had no ex­pe­ri­ence in the health plan busi­ness, ex­cept as a cus­tomer. “I re­ally did not know a lot about health­care,” he said. And, like many cus­tomers, he took what he was told for granted—rarely ques­tion­ing why his health­care was the way it was. “If I would go to a doc­tor and he told me it was 2 o’clock, I didn’t even look at my watch,” Ho­gans said.

Since join­ing the board of what was then the Re­gence Group and par­tic­u­larly since be­com­ing chair­man in 2013, Ho­gans has helped lead the com­pany’s ef­fort to make what ex­ec­u­tives there say is a fun­da­men­tal change in the re­la­tion­ship be­tween in­sur­ers, providers and pa­tients. Cam­bia is out to ques­tion what cus­tomers want and need from their health­care providers and em­power them to drive the di­rec­tion of their health­care ser­vices.

Ho­gans, 67, has em­braced that consumer per­spec­tive, lead­ing a group of other board mem­bers, many of whom are also from out­side health­care, to help smooth the path to a new cus­tomer-fo­cused re­la­tion­ship, said Cam­bia CEO Mark Ganz.

“We are chang­ing the par­a­digm to one in which you rec­og­nize in­di­vid­u­als are smarter about what they need and what they want,” Ganz said. And Ho­gans’ lead­er­ship “has been in the epi­cen­ter of the move to build­ing a whole new plat­form of strong consumer-ori­ented prin­ci­ples.”

For his ac­com­plish­ments and lead­er­ship role, Ho­gans is the re­cip­i­ent of Mod­ern Health­care’s Ex­cel­lence in Gov­er­nance Award for cor­po­rate gov­er­nance.

Ho­gans said he’s had to evolve into the role, given that his gen­er­a­tion of health­care con­sumers was con­di­tioned not to be in­quis­i­tive.

“I’ve learned to ask the ques­tions,” the ones con­sumers per­haps should have been ask­ing all along, said Ho­gans, who earned a de­gree at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan and was raised in ru­ral Alabama.

An­other mem­ber of the Cam­bia board who brings a cus­tomer-fo­cused ap­proach is Mike Kop­pel, an ex­ec­u­tive at the cus­tomer ser­vice-driven re­tailer Nord­strom. Kop­pel said Ho­gans is ef­fec­tive as a board mem­ber be­cause he asks ques­tions—and truly lis­tens to the an­swers.

“Mack’s a re­ally hum­ble guy, so he’s very open to hear­ing oth­ers’ points of view,” said Kop­pel, who is ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer at the Seat­tle-based re­tail gi­ant. “He knows what he doesn’t know, so he seeks out in­for­ma­tion and has a good way of pulling it to­gether so oth­ers un­der­stand.”

Ho­gans has man­aged to keep a rel­a­tively low pro­file, while be­ing ex­tremely ac­tive on civic, cor­po­rate and com­mu­nity boards. He es­ti­mated he’s served on about 35 boards (though he notes that may be about 30 too many.)

Kop­pel, who lives near Ho­gans in the Seat­tle sub­urb of Belle­vue, gives an il­lus­tra­tion of how Ho­gans qui­etly goes about his var­i­ous civic en­gage­ments. He re­cently ran into Ho­gans at a meet­ing of a pow­er­ful group of area busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives who work on lo­cal pub­lic pol­icy is­sues.

“Mack is a mem­ber of that group. I wouldn’t have even known that if I didn’t see him show up at a meet­ing one day,” Kop­pel said. “He’s not the celebrity kind of guy.”

Ho­gans’ lead­er­ship “has been in the epi­cen­ter of the move to build­ing a whole new plat­form of strong con­sumeror­i­ented prin­ci­ples.”


Mack Ho­gans Board­chair­man Cam­bia Health So­lu­tions Port­land, Ore.

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