What health care CEOs told us in 2015

As a partner to more than 5,000 member organizations, The Advisory Board Company is fortunate to have relationships with many of the leading health care CEOs in the country. This year, more than a dozen hospital and health system CEOs sat for interviews that ran in the Daily Briefing and shared their thoughts on leadership, strategy, and the future of health care. 

While all of the interviews are worth reading in full, the Daily Briefing editorial team has selected quotes from each that provide insight into what it takes to be a leading health care CEO in a rapidly changing market.

We look forward to continuing our "Lessons from the C-suite" series in 2016 and hearing from remarkable leaders in a remarkable industry.



“Never lose sight of the fact that leading health care organizations is a great privilege and responsibility. Ours is very important work … You've got to get down deep and understand the central dynamics that drive your business—both operationally and in terms of your marketplace.”
Richard Gilfillan, president and CEO of Trinity Health


Related reads:

“People thought I was absolutely nuts because I took a job that paid maybe 10% of my previous salary. But health care disparities is a passionate subject for me.”
Ram Raju, president and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals

Related reads:

“My job is to hire the smartest, brightest people possible and let them do their job. Agree on the vision, agree on the strategy, and let them work.”
Joel Allison, CEO of Baylor Scott & White Health



Related reads:

“What I tell everybody what's different this time around—what's different than the other attempts to reform our industry—is that the safety net's gone. Whether you like the Affordable Care Act or not, I don't see any of those cuts being reversed. The federal budget can't take it.”
Patrick Fry, outgoing president and CEO of Sutter Health



Related reads:

“Realistic optimism is a really important concept as a leader. One of the things that [outgoing CEO Patrick Fry] has been really successful in projecting is a sense of confidence but not overconfidence. We're confident that we can take on this challenge and succeed, but it's going to be hard work.”
Sarah Krevans, incoming president and CEO of Sutter Health


Related reads:

“The attitude on our part is we're not going anyplace we're not wanted. There won't be any hostile takeover. But if somebody wants our help, we are prepared and ready to help. That's how we built the system.”
Michael Tarwater, CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System



Related reads:

“You have to remember why you're doing population health and have a good reason to do it. Not to be cool, not because Modern Healthcare says you should be doing it, but because it will provide better care for the local community and you have the capability to make it work.”
Trevor Fetter, president and CEO of Tenet Healthcare

Related reads:

“Even in its short history ... our new health plan has begun to change the whole system. It has become a catalyst that enhances our focus on care management, on utilization, on access and on price.”
Michael Dowling, president and CEO of North-Shore Long Island Jewish Health System



Related reads:

“We are all talking about this movement from volume to value. Most executives can say the words, but I think there are very few who understand how perilous that gap is. Either end is fine. It is life in the gap that's tough—and that is where most people are going to be over the next few years.”
Jim Hinton, president and CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services

Related reads:

“We've been doing population health since 1995. The truth is: it takes a long time—longer than I think politicians want to wait. In fact, it took us five years of losing money. It probably wasn't until the early 2000s, when we were writing off the losses, that we began to have a margin in that activity.”
Steven Safyer, president and CEO of Montefiore Health System

Related reads:

“Retail medicine is based on a premise of high demand for easy-access episodic care to relieve symptoms of minor illness. Population health management will require models that reduce utilization of episodic care which begs the question are the two trends in conflict with one another? Time will tell.”
Steven Lipstein, president and CEO of BJC HealthCare

Related reads:

“Doctors think systematically about disease, but they don't think systematically about patient populations. That skill set is closer to what economists and political scientists do, whether it's looking at heat maps or referral patterns. I believe in the value of bringing the social sciences and medicine together.”
Ralph Muller, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System

Related reads:

“My role as CEO is to make sure that this focus remains a part of the fabric of our organization going forward—that we continue to do what we can to improve the health of the communities.”
Kevin E. Lofton, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives



Related reads:

“The beauty of the national discussion on the Affordable Care Act wasn't what resulted from the act itself or the exchanges or any of that. It was the fact that patients became more educated about health care and they're more engaged now.”
Nick Turkal, CEO of Aurora Health Care

Related reads:

“Focus relentlessly on the mission. Patient care, education, research, and community benefit are the mission of the institution. So, throughout the time I've been the CEO, we've constantly reaffirmed: Patient care is primary within the institution's mission, but without the other three elements we would not be the same organization, nor honoring the reason we exist.”
Thomas Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai Health System

Related reads:

“I believe that partnerships and integrations are going to remain a robust part of the health care landscape, especially as we move to value-based and total cost of care models of care. We believe that greater scale will help us improve access and make health care more affordable.”
Marna Borgstrom, president and CEO of Yale New Haven Health System


Related reads:

Other lessons from the C-suite

The Daily Briefing also interviewed several other health care executives this year:

Bob Pryor, president and CMO, Baylor Scott & White Health
How two CEOs found a 'third way' and created one super-system

Larry Robbins, founder and CEO, Glenview Capital Management
Did this hedge fund leader invest in your hospital? Here's how he decides.

Patrick Conway, CMO and acting principal deputy administrator, CMS
How the government's chief medical officer views the health care industry


Next in the Daily Briefing

Around the nation: FTC moves to block yet another health system merger

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