Becker's 11th Annual Meeting: 4 Questions with Julie Ann Freischlag, Chief Executive Officer at Wake Forest Baptist Health; Dean at Wake Forest School of Medicine


Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, serves as Chief Executive Officer at Wake Forest Baptist Health; Dean at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

On May 24th, Dr. Freischlag will serve on the panel "What are the Qualities of a Terrific Health System Leader? How do They Encourage Leadership Development? Is Leadership Natural or Learned? Have you Outsourced any Leadership Training? How Important is Internal vs. External Recruitment?" at Becker's Hospital Review 11th 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 on May 24-26, 2021 in Chicago.

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

Question: What, from your perspective, is the biggest challenge about the future of work for hospitals, and what can they do about it? (i.e. automation, desire for more flexibility, clinician shortages, etc.)

Julie Ann Freischlag: The biggest challenge about the future of work for hospitals is improving health for even more patients. Many of the things we need to do are related to social drivers of health and providing ways for patients and their families to eat better, exercise more and live a healthier lifestyle. As healthcare providers, we need to provide affordable care close to their home, especially for the elderly and those with young children. Telemedicine should be expanded to “see” patients in their homes and utilize devices to monitor vital signs and laboratory values. Access to the best tertiary and quaternary care for all is an essential part of the new clinical integrated networks. Reimbursement for these services and for value-based care needs to be adequate to allow healthcare providers to be paid for their services. Utilizing everyone to the top of their license will allow more patients to be seen without always having to see a physician. Flexible hours in clinics, such as evenings and weekends, and the use of “virtual” clinics will aid in the anticipated shortages of physicians in the future, especially in the rural areas we serve.

Q: What's one lesson you learned early in your career that has helped you lead in healthcare?

JF: The lesson that I learned early in my career as a vascular surgeon which helps me lead as a CEO and Dean is to utilize my team. In the operating room, nursing, anesthesia and surgery work together with a common goal of a successful operation for the patient on the table. All attention is focused on the task at hand and communication is key, especially if the procedure is tough, the patient frail and sick and the case long and tough. At the end of a successful procedure, the team feels so good and the patient is better off. That kind of feeling can be obtained in other multidisciplinary team activities and should be taught to our students, residents and faculty members, as well as staff who support all of these activities.

Q: Where do you go for inspiration and fresh ideas?

JF: Inspiration and fresh ideas come to me from my patients who are brave and courageous facing surgery and other procedures. Additionally, the students and residents with whom I have the privilege of connecting with each and everyday project such joy and hope as they begin their careers in healthcare. They have the best ideas and thoughts! I also start my day with five minutes of meditation when I wake up, where I think about what I am thankful for and what amazing things we will be able to accomplish as the day unfolds.

Q: What do you see as the most exciting opportunity in healthcare right now?

JF: The most exciting opportunity in healthcare right now is the ability to include the patient and their family in the healthcare decisions they make, both now and in the future.

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