Becker's 12th Annual Meeting Speaker Series: 4 Questions with Phoebe Yang, Board of Stewardship Trustees, CommonSpirit Health

Phoebe Yang serves on the Board of Stewardship Trustees at CommonSpirit Health System. 

Phoebe will serve on the panel "Governing Through Uncertainty and Change" at Becker's 12th 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 in Chicago from April 25-28, 2022. 

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

Q: What are your top priorities for 2022?

Phoebe Yang: As a board member of CommonSpirit Health, one of the largest health systems in the country, I share with the board and management team three main priorities as captured in our integrated strategic road map, CommonSpirit 2026. These priorities focus on supporting our people, expanding excellent care, and investing in our future.  First and foremost, our board is working to ensure that our world-class CommonSpirit caregivers -- who have made so many sacrifices for all of us -- are recognized, cared for, and are prioritizing their own well-being and development. Related to this, we are also working to address long-standing workforce shortages that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and creating opportunities to build a diverse health care workforce that reflects the communities it serves. 

At the governance level, we will continue to build our strategic and diverse board of stewardship trustees and search for a replacement for our inimitable CEO Lloyd Dean, who will retire this year. 

At CommonSpirit Health, it is our mission to make the healing presence of God known in our world by bringing excellent, evidence-based, equitable and holistic care to our patients with an acute eye to addressing health disparities. CommonSpirit has a presence in 21 states and thousands of communities nationwide. Through this broad geographic footprint, we are in a unique position to serve many of the communities hardest hit during COVID and to solve the health disparities further revealed and heightened by the pandemic. 

Q: What technologies and innovations are you most excited about in healthcare right now?

PY: The CommonSpirit family is excited about what technology and innovation can bring to our patients, caregivers, and communities we serve. One area that is a priority is expanding the positive advances in digitally-enabled, consumer-centric virtual care. Specifically, CommonSpirit Health has had over 2 million virtual visits between March 2020 and November 2021. We have demonstrated excellent virtual care can be provided for the right set of clinical conditions.  Virtual visits are more convenient for patients in certain instances – and may be essential to accessing care at all --, especially for those whose jobs are such that missing work would mean missing critical pay that goes toward rent, food, and necessary daily living requirements.  A virtual visit means a patient can be seen on break or lunch and not spend time traveling.  They get access to care while still earning the income they need. Making telehealth a sustainable part of the healthcare ecosystem long-term will impact health inequities by increasing access to care.  Virtual care also has a positive impact on the environment. By the numbers, these virtual visits saved our patients 50 million miles of travel, 2.2 million gallons of gas from being consumed, and 20,000 metric tons of Co2e not released into the atmosphere.  

Q: What will the lasting impact of COVID-19 be on the healthcare system?

PY: The pandemic has brought many lessons for all of us.  Among those that will endure beyond the pandemic are:

  • Clarity of, and a greater focus on, the health inequities that exist and how to better address them through impacting social determinants of health; 
  • Need for broad-based workforce planning, recruiting, education, and training to develop a robust, resilient, and diverse workforce; 
  • Imperative for a better structured and funded public health system -- in the midst of caring for patients, health systems stepped in at great cost (personal as well as financial) to facilitate sharing of PPEvaccine distribution, and so many other widespread public health needs
  • Flexibility in how, when, and where care is delivered.  

Q: What advice do you have for emerging healthcare leaders today?

PY: Always remember and center yourself on why you entered health care as a profession in the first place. Ultimately, most of us are inspired by the intrinsic desire to help patients and communities stay healthy and to improve the health care system for all. That is our “north star.” Sometimes, we face unimaginable challenges, have to make difficult decisions, and have to take risks we never thought we’d have to take. In those moments, go back to your north star. Don’t become paralyzed by the notion of risk in your decision-making. In health care, many decisions have traditionally been seen as binary calculations of life and death – many decisions are, but many more are notThe wise will discern which decisions require extensive analysis and which paths can be taken and tried to see where they may lead. Agility and timeliness in acting on the information you have is better than paralysisWith most decisions, if an approach doesn’t work, you can pivot and adapt. Innovation and growth always involve some degree of risk, but paralysis is often the riskiest position of all.  

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