How Insight is facing the challenges of staffing while expanding its vision around the country: Q&A with CEO, Jawad Shah

Flint, Mich.-based Insight operates a number of locations in the Midwest including its original neuroscience clinic in Flint as well as Insight Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago and Insight Surgical Hospital in Warren, Mich.

Becker's recently reported on the system's plan to take over operations at a shuttered hospital in Iowa and took the opportunity to talk in more depth with the group's CEO and founder, Dr. Jawad Shah, about Insight and its vision.

Question: Insight is planning to take over operations at the shuttered Keokuk Area Hospital in Iowa. Does this mean you are looking to expand more outside of your focused geographic area?

Dr. Jawad Shah: We are looking anywhere in the country, it just has to be the right parameters. We are not shy about that now, the leadership team is expanding. We would be looking at vertically and horizontally integrated clinics and hospitals. We are envisioning multiple hospital acquisitions in the next several years along with the growth of our core programs through a process of leadership development.

Q: What have been some of the biggest challenges for you and Insight recently?

JS: The really unexpected challenge was the incredible cost of nursing. That single cost was way beyond what anyone had predicted. The costs are definitely under better control now, but it's still a challenge. Also, with temporary labor, you have people coming in for two weeks or so and you cannot build an institution like that.

Q: You talk of "superstars" at Insight's Chicago hospital, how people were taking a chance on their careers by working there. Could you expand a little more on what you mean by that? 

JS: Insight is an expanding system and is in need of people who have very high energy, ethics and intellect in terms of leading forward the variety of projects that we have decided to embark upon. The reason I believe that they are taking chances is that there is a significant degree of uncertainty in a variety of projects in difficult circumstances. While tremendous opportunity exists for a superstar to learn and grow within, they are also taking a chance in that these situations are fluid and one may not be able to handle the amount of pressure required to fulfill the needs. In many of the projects that we are now embarking on, unlike formed units and programs, leaders have to have an entrepreneurial and pioneering mentality and drive in order to succeed, which is not for everyone.

Q: Could you have imagined Insight is where it is today when you started the Flint clinic? Can you talk a little more about where you imagine Insight to be in, say, five years' time?

JS: Years ago when Insight began its full operations, the vision was limited based upon the resources and the needs of the community, with a primary focus on the neurosciences and clinical and community development on a broader level. With time, the vision grew as resources grew and understanding of the healthcare space and the community development space increased. Where Insight is today is far beyond its written goals and vision from 15 years ago.  We have grown to unimaginable levels relative to our beginning. Our growth right now is exponential in terms of the facilities that we are developing and acquiring, service lines, business units, research, community work, etc., which are being developed as well as academic contributions, with community engagement and youth empowerment, and we thank God for all of the successes we have seen. I believe that Insight's vision as a healthcare system includes the idea that the most vulnerable communities and populations will require care, and we are prepared to participate in ensuring that they have full access to the most exemplary and cutting-edge forms of medicine this country has to offer.

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