Saturday, April 10, 2010

MD/MBA Careers in Delivery Systems

Ralph de la Torre, MD (President and CEO of Caritas Christi Health Care) gave a great presentation today at the Association of MD/MBA Programs (AMMP) 8th Annual Conference.

What do we mean by health care delivery systems? Health care delivery is about how we bring health care to patients. Caritas Christi heads independent hospitals and includes a physician network. Caritas Christi also owns 2 health plans a nursing school.

So, how did Dr. de la Torre end up at Caritas Christi Health Care? He started in engineering, then he became a heart surgeon at MGH. Then, he worked at Boston Medical Center but took a job so that he could spend some time on the side in the engineering industry. He had some side ventures. Then, he dove into the quality component of cardiac surgery at become the Chief of Cardiac Surgery at the Beth Israel Deaconness hospital. So, he founded the Cardiovascular Institute at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Then, at the age of 41, he got a call to run Caritas Christi Health Care.

Pearl: you have to be able to think clearly if you want to succeed.  When he got to Caritas Christi, he had to define the company. They had to be a community-based delivery system. The system was not set up to facilitate the mission. Therefore, they reconstructed the entire organizational chart and they rebuilt the entire operation.

4 pieces of advice:
1) Embrace what you don't know and learn it. Expand your horizons and your way of thinking.
2) When you're confronted with a problem, make sure you step back and define the problem. Once you determine the problem, create a solution and a timeline. Don't start with the solution.
3) Have contingency plans. Don't fall into the "toilet paper syndrome." Some people use 3 sheets, then 2 sheets, then 2 sheets. If they go into the bathroom and there's only 6 sheets, they're stuck in the bathroom all day.
4) Don't be afraid to make mistakes or take risks.
So, how do you become a leader? There are multiple paths to becoming a health care leader, but you always have to be advancing yourself. The entire health care system is about to undergo change. For those who love opportunity, we are all in a position to make a huge impact of health care.

Questions from the audience:
  • Pure staff model vs. a mixed model? Need to provide an incentive for those involved in the health care system. 
  • Expand about "transaction." Caritas had an operations problem and a capital problem and it couldn't get out of the overall problem without fixing the capital problem.

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