Pinnacle Dermatology's new CEO brings experience as CIO, CFO and CSO to new role

Chad Eckes is still new to his role as CEO of Chicago-based Pinnacle Dermatology, but he is not a newcomer to the C-suite.

Mr. Eckes has extensive healthcare leadership experience. He joined Cancer Treatment Centers of America as CIO in 2005, serving in that capacity until 2013. He then transitioned into the role of chief strategy officer for CTCA's national hospital network.

In March 2014, Mr. Eckes joined Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center as vice president and CIO. He was promoted to executive vice president of corporate services and CFO about a year later. He left Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in June for his newest position as CEO of Pinnacle Dermatology, a practice with six locations throughout the Chicagoland area.

Mr. Eckes caught up with Becker's Hospital Review to discuss his new role, as well as how his past mentors and C-suite experience influenced his leadership style. 

Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: What are your primary goals for Pinnacle Dermatology for the next five years?

Chad Eckes: Our goal is to make Pinnacle Dermatology one of the 10 largest dermatology organizations in the nation with at least 100 clinical office locations.  We aim to be the chosen provider of complete skin care in our target rural and suburban markets.

Our product and service offerings will continue to be primarily medical dermatology-focused, with complementary cosmetic offerings that are valued by our customers. Core to our service differentiation is our robust skin cancer methodology supported by Mohs, laboratory and pathology services.

We will continue to be focused on our strengths, including our comprehensive skin care methodology; delivering superior treatment results; leading in the delivery of innovative care delivery options; and providing an extraordinary experience for patients, referring physicians, Pinnacle providers and Pinnacle staff.

Lastly, our goal is to be recognized for providing the best shared services support to our patients and clinical locations through servant leadership and best practice processes. The shared service design is to provide timely service to our providers so they can take care of our patients. This begins with our robust practice integration and de novo processes that ensure seamless transitions into the Pinnacle family and extends to day-to-day, real-time support. Five years from now, we want to be known as the best place to work in the dermatology field.

Q: How has your experience at Cancer Treatment Centers of America prepared you for your new role at Pinnacle Dermatology?

CE: There are many similarities between Pinnacle Dermatology and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. The top three takeaways from my experience with CTCA that have prepared me for leading Pinnacle include:

1. A relentless pursuit to be the highest quality organization in both clinical quality and patient experience. Similar to CTCA, our focus is providing a remarkable experience from the very first phone call. We understand that every touchpoint with the patient matters.

2. How to grow an organization while maintaining a culture that is focused on providing a superior patient, provider and staff experience. CTCA was masterful at building tools and processes to protect organization culture during growth.

3. Approaches to build Lean shared services to support the local sites. While many organizations have shared services functions, CTCA was exceptional on reinforcing a servant mindset in shared services. Our philosophy was: "You either serve the patient or serve those that are serving the patient." This mindset translated into shared services departments that provided timely responses to provider needs with minimal bureaucracy.

Q: What's one thing that really piqued your interest in healthcare?

CE: The area that I'm most passionate about in healthcare is how the consumer (i.e. patient) has been disenfranchised from the purchasing process. In the wake of this, the industry has deemed it acceptable to provide customer service levels completely unacceptable in other industries, including long lead times when scheduling appointments, unacceptable wait times during appointments, lack of price transparency, confusing billing processes, lack of system integration, lack of technology innovation and a clinical definition of quality versus the total experience. Changing these industry issues is what brought me from financial services to healthcare and what keeps me energized every day.

Q: How has your experience as CSO, CIO and CFO influenced your leadership style?

CE: I have been fortunate enough to have many great mentors that I have met throughout my career. Both my actual roles with broad responsibilities and my mentors have created the following core values and goals, which drive my leadership style:

  • Align teammates to the vision, mission, and values of the company
  • Create highly engaged teams emotionally invested in patient care
  • Facilitate a defined strategy and then keep focus on the execution
  • Build customer service environments that create an experience patients want to tell their friends and family about
  • Demand true end-to-end quality
  • Make work fun
  • Inspire the culture to achieve "excellence."

At Pinnacle Dermatology, these core values will be easy to implement as we have the opportunity to help patients with medical needs like skin cancer treatment every day. That calling provides a lot of inspiration for our team. 

Q: What's one piece of advice you remember most clearly?

CE: My mentor, and former CEO at CTCA, regularly reminded us to stay focused on the significant few priorities needed to achieve the strategic plan. While there are always business opportunities that arise, unaligned opportunities cause tactical noise. These "spinning plates" can greatly distract the team and slow down progress.

At the heart of this direction was determining our company’s single differentiating factor. At CTCA it was our focus on cancer patients with advanced stage and complex cancers. Based upon our single differentiating factor, we created a focused future profile that provided a solid sense of direction and allowed for a rubric that could be used to filter business decisions and new opportunities.

Over the last two months at Pinnacle Dermatology, the executive team has been focused on building a similarly focused strategy. For us, it's about providing healthy and complete skin care while putting a family-oriented patient experience at the center of everything we do.

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