‘If you have a great team, you can fig­ure out just about any com­pli­cated prob­lem’

Modern Healthcare - - Q&A -

On Oct. 17, Dr. A. Marc Har­ri­son started his run as pres­i­dent and CEO of In­ter­moun­tain Health­care. The Salt Lake City-based in­te­grated de­liv­ery net­work—which gen­er­ated $6.1 bil­lion in rev­enue last year, op­er­ates 22 hos­pi­tals, em­ploys 1,400 physi­cians and of­fers health plans through an in­sur­ance sub­sidiary—is widely rec­og­nized as an in­no­va­tor in tech­nol­ogy and care de­liv­ery. Har­ri­son worked at In­ter­moun­tain’s Pri­mary Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal while com­plet­ing his res­i­dency and in­tern­ship. Be­fore re­turn­ing to In­ter­moun­tain to suc­ceed long­time leader Dr. Charles Soren­son, Har­ri­son spent more than a decade with the Cleve­land Clinic, in­clud­ing as CEO of its hos­pi­tal in Abu Dhabi. Mod­ern Health­care Man­ag­ing Edi­tor Gregg Blesch re­cently spoke with Har­ri­son about man­ag­ing pop­u­la­tion health, run­ning a hos­pi­tal in Abu Dhabi and build­ing per­sonal con­nec­tions in a large health sys­tem. This fol­low­ing is an edited tran­script.

Mod­ern Health­care: A video In­ter­moun­tain posted to in­tro­duce you shows you bik­ing through some breath­tak­ing land­scapes in Utah and of­fer­ing a tes­ti­mo­nial about liv­ing well. How do you view your pub­lic role now that health sys­tems are in­creas­ingly called on to man­age pop­u­la­tion health?

Dr. A. Marc Har­ri­son: That was pretty high up there, and what you couldn’t see is I was go­ing up a re­ally steep hill. My heart rate was prob­a­bly about 180 as I was try­ing to ride up that moun­tain.

I ac­cept the fact that part of my job is to be a role model for liv­ing well and for tak­ing good care of my­self as an ex­am­ple of how peo­ple should take care of them­selves. Now, I’m far from per­fect, right? I’ve been known to have an oc­ca­sional ham­burger and French fries and that’s be­cause I’m hu­man, but I do try—par­tic­u­larly as a per­son who’s a cancer sur­vivor—to think care­fully about mak­ing sure that I make the most of ev­ery day, both phys­i­cally, emo­tion­ally and spir­i­tu­ally. And part of that is ex­er­cise, diet and in­te­grat­ing my work in my life.

MH: Take us back to 2010. You were work­ing at the Cleve­land Clinic. They were about to open this huge gleam­ing hos­pi­tal in Abu Dhabi, and you get cho­sen as its first CEO.

Har­ri­son: I was chief med­i­cal op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer at the Cleve­land Clinic, so I was re­spon­si­ble for in­te­grat­ing the health sys­tem and some per­for­mance man­age­ment stuff, and I was re­spon­si­ble for start­ing some new busi­nesses and run­ning a large part of the clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions. I was ac­tu­ally very happy in that job and loved it. And Dr. Cos­grove, who was the CEO and still is the CEO there, came and asked me if I might be in­ter­ested in join­ing the team in Abu Dhabi.

There had ac­tu­ally been a fair amount of turnover at the top of the or­ga­ni­za­tion in Abu Dhabi, and it was a project with enor­mous prom­ise, but it was hav­ing a lit­tle bit of trou­ble get­ting its feet un­der it­self. I took the op­por­tu­nity to not only grow pro­fes­sion­ally but to serve an or­ga­ni­za­tion that I loved dearly and had been good to my fam­ily and to me.

It wasn’t a gleam­ing hos­pi­tal when I went over. In fact, it was a team of 35 peo­ple in an un­fin­ished, not even topped-off steel struc­ture on a sandy is­land that had not re­ally been de­vel­oped. Over a five-year pe­riod, we turned that into a 3,500-per­son or­ga­ni­za­tion with rep­re­sen­ta­tion from 70 coun­tries at the 3 mil­lion-square-foot build­ing, and de­liv­ered ter­tiary, qua­ter­nary care in that time frame.

MH: Were most of the pa­tients trav­el­ing from all over the Mid­dle East and Africa, or was a lo­cal com­mu­nity served?

Har­ri­son: We re­ally had three big mis­sions there. The first was to al­low peo­ple who lived in the UAE, and Abu Dhabi specif­i­cally, to stay close to home for their health­care. The sec­ond was to add new ca­pa­bil­ity to the mar­ket, and the third was to train health­care lead­ers for

“Part of my job is to be a role model for liv­ing well and for tak­ing good care of my­self as an ex­am­ple of how peo­ple should take care of them­selves.”

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