Becker's 10th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 3 Questions with Tommy Ibrahim, Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive for INTEGRIS Health

Tommy Ibrahim, MD, MHA, CPE, FHM, serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Physician Executive for INTEGRIS Health. 

On April 2nd, Dr. Ibrahim will speak at Becker's Hospital Review 10th Annual Meeting. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place April 1-4, 2019 in Chicago.

To learn more about the conference and Dr. Ibrahim's session, click here.

Question: What one strategic initiative will demand the most of your time and energy in 2019?

Tommy Ibrahim: I come to work every morning with the single focus of leveraging the collective wisdom and talent of our physician enterprise to transform how we deliver care. Our medical staff holds a great deal of potential power that is aching to be unleashed but require an infrastructure as well as the tools and resources to be successful. This is why, at INTEGRIS, we are taking a proactive and aggressive approach to build a physician leadership structure that leverages both employed and independent physician leaders, service line dyads, department chairs, medical directors, and the broader provider network to become engaged in clinical transformation that advances us closer toward creating more value to patients and payors alike. Asking our physicians to assume this work alone is not enough. We are also committed to developing our providers to lead this work for INTEGRIS, through shared visioning and decision-making and equipping them with the analytics, support, and key competency training needed to be wildly successful. The early results are impressive and the journey ahead is exciting.

Q: Healthcare takes a lot of heat for not innovating quickly. What's your take on this?

TI: It is true that our industry is lagging other business sectors in adopting innovative strategies and techniques to advance forward. This is largely due to how the incentives in the industry have been aligned in the past. Healthcare entities have largely been operating as “functional factories.” Hospitals and individual practices were incentivized to do procedures and perform ancillary testing, because that is how they maintained their livelihood. As long as the incentives remained on churning volume, there was no need (for the most part) to change. Today, the story is very different and the incentives are moving away from this traditional model to shift the focus on placing a greater degree of risk on providers to care for patients across total care cycles, disease states, and populations, with an emphasis on high value, quality, and safe care. With the rapid shift and anticipated acceleration of these changes in the future, the industry is now playing “catch-up” to find ways to use technology and new ideas to meet the demands of the changes abound.

Another key factor delaying adoption is mere tolerance for risk. Particularly with slimming margins, there isn’t much appetite to be the first to market with an innovative approach or the next “shiny object”, particularly when there is so much blocking and tackling to do on the core business. Slowly but surely, we will discover new ways to innovate to enhance core operations and we will start to see movement, particularly as well proven and studied approaches manifest return on investment and enhanced quality in care. Every industry goes through this type of period. It just so happens that for healthcare, the time is now, and we are lucky to be in the middle of it because it truly is a wonderful opportunity for all in healthcare to be a part of shaping how we care for people in the future.

Q: Can you share some praise with us about people you work with? What does greatness look like to you when it comes to your team?

TI: I truly and sincerely believe that I have the privilege of working with some of the finest people in our industry. The INTEGRIS culture is grounded in the values of Love, Learn, and Lead, and our people proudly display these virtues daily. When it comes to being successful in any leadership role, the most important asset anyone can ask for, is the team around you. I have been fortunate enough, in other roles throughout my career, to learn this important lesson through the lens and experiences of other leaders and take very seriously a commitment to build a coalition of team members, that are just not in sync on the work at hand and the ultimate vision, but are also connected and committed to one another. A great team to me, is one that brings diverse talents and skillsets, able to challenge and complement the whole, but also, one that is bonded just right to encourage, empower, motivate, and push one another. In our industry, it is very easy to become discouraged due to the many changes and uncertainties surrounding us. I love my team of leaders and physicians that work tirelessly and give their all to their work, but I am in awe when I see and hear my team members stop to lift up another INTEGRIS leader, myself included. That to me is greatness in a team and brings joy (and fun) to our difficult but very important and life fulfilling roles.

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