Becker's CEO + CFO Roundtable 2019: 4 Questions with Peter Banko, President and Chief Executive Officer at Centura Health

Virginia Egizio - Print  | 

Peter Banko serves as President and Chief Executive Officer at Centura Health. 

On November 11th, Peter will serve on the panel "Creating Healthcare Leaders" at Becker's 8th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place November 11-13, 2019 in Chicago.

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

Question: What is the single most important thing you need to do in your role? (Ie: What do you have to be great at?)

Peter Banko: I see myself as having only two roles as CEO. Of the two, the most important role is setting the direction for our 137-year Adventist and Catholic ministry. To do that effectively, there must be clarity and focus amongst our 21,000 caregivers across Colorado and western Kansas about where we are going, why we are going there, and what it takes each step of the way. The second role is allocating resources (time, talent, and treasure) to achieve the direction. I need to be there to support, nurture, grow and cultivate every caregiver in their role and in reaching their fullest potential. And, I’ve learned through this process that it can also mean me just getting out of the way of the incredible people in our ministry.

Q: There is a lot to improve upon in healthcare. Of the many issues that hold your attention, what is the one you consider exceptionally imperative and urgent?

PB: We are witnessing a very unique dynamic playing itself out in health care discussions with the 2020 election cycle and, specifically, in our State House in Colorado. One side wants “Medicare for All” and the other side wants to abandon “ObamaCare” completely. We are having no “in-between” discussions. What our consumers really want right now from “the system” is affordability and transparency. Where is that going to come from? The legislative and regulatory process? CVS or Walmart or Berkshire Hathaway? Health systems have the unique opportunity to “cop to the charge” that health care is too expensive. And, then, work with physicians, health plans, and consumers to make health care more practically affordable for the consumer and transparent like the rest of our “shopping” lives currently are.

Q: Healthcare leaders today need skills and talents that span beyond those emphasized during formal training and higher education. What is one specific competency that you learned or sharpened in real life?

PB: In my first CEO role at CHI St. Vincent in Little Rock, Ark., I had a “boss” that kept encouraging me to practice more “anticipatory leadership”. When she repeated that term, it always made me think of those 1970s Heinz commercials in which the Carly Simon hit “Anticipation” was used. As I have worked through it myself and now think about it in the context of my current role, anticipatory leaders generally have three very well-honed skills. They have an ability to think systemically (understanding the forces shaping them from the outside as well as the realistic internal functioning of their own organization). They have a relentless fascination with the future (their sense of the future is so strong it is as if the future is alive in the present). Finally, they are able to mobilize and motivate others to take action (they are both educators and action takers). This leadership skill comes naturally to some and some of us (like me) need constant practice, support, and coaching.

Q: What is one convention, tradition or habit that healthcare has adopted and left unquestioned that you feel either needs to stop or undergo thoughtful scrutiny? Why?

PB: We don’t know our consumers in health care. Walmart and Target have had it figured out for years. They know exactly what I am going to buy at a certain store on a Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in July. They stock other things I might want to buy next to things I am actually buying. When I go to buy something specific on Amazon, they know what else I might need or think I need. And then my online shopping adventures convert to advertisements specific to me when I am perusing my social media accounts. One of the four core strategies of our Centura Health 2025 strategic plan is consumer enablement. We want to improve a consumer’s influence over their own experience with our health system. We’ve pulled this work into an “innovation center” reporting directly to me so that it doesn’t become encumbered with conventions, traditions, and habits. We will find ways to leverage technology, strengthen our digital footprint, and utilize existing and new data sources and analytics to enable consumers’ and clinicians’ influence over the quality, safety, and experience of the care journey.

Hospital leaders face increasing demands on their time and must continually prioritize where to
focus their efforts and energy. As I partner with hospital leaders, it’s important to assess the impact
and benefits of projects to help prioritize initiatives.
For example, everyone is paying attention to the rise in specialty drug costs. Yet often there is little a
hospital can do to lower their specialty drug spend. However, there are substantial cost savings
possible through an improved reimbursement strategy and medication utilization-based projects.
Not only would prioritizing these initiatives drive meaningful results, they also are within the
hospital’s span of control.
In addition, I find that hospital leaders can overlook the pharmacy in performance improvement
initiatives, so it is an ongoing education and advocacy about the pharmacy’s potential impact. The
pharmacy should be a center of innovation for a hospital – and innovation is key to expanding
services and improving care.

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