Becker's Speaker Series: 4 questions with Hospital for Special Surgery CEO Louis Shapiro

Louis Shapiro became president and CEO of the Hospital for Special Surgery, which is based in New York City, in 2006.

Mr. Shapiro's career began at Pittsburgh-based Allegheny General Hospital. Since then, he has served as a leader in the healthcare practice of McKinsey & Company and as executive vice president and COO of Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System.Louis Shapiro Corner Office

On Monday, April 17, Mr. Shapiro will speak on a keynote panel at the Becker's Hospital Review 8th 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 17 through April 20 in Chicago.

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

Question: What do you enjoy about working at the Hospital for Special Surgery?

Louis Shapiro: I love HSS. I am continually impressed with the talent here. The dedication of the people — from the front line staff to our physicians — is inspiring. I often meet or hear from patients who share incredible stories about how they got back in the game faster and better than they could have expected thanks to our extraordinary staff.

Just the other day, I received an email from one of our physicians who was involved in a complex case requiring surgery on short notice. She was amazed by how the entire clinical team mobilized at the blink of an eye to ensure a smooth procedure and recovery for the patient. Also this very week, I heard from several disparate sources that the culture of HSS is palpable wherever you may be and whoever you may be interacting with.

The focus and commitment of the people here is the engine behind our ability to be on the cutting edge of musculoskeletal health. I like to say that culture doesn't eat strategy for lunch. Culture is a strategy that if deployed correctly allows organizations to achieve a level of performance that is otherwise unattainable.

Q: Who is one of your role models and why?

LS: My father, who passed away over 10 years ago. He unfortunately passed after a long battle with multiple sclerosis, but also taught me my work ethic over the course of my upbringing.

Q: The keynote panel you're speaking on in April is called "Key Strategies and Trends for 2017-2018." What are a few such strategies and trends you're seeing?

LS: It's an interesting time, not just in healthcare but in the country and across the world. The presidential election is already bringing a tremendous level of change, and the details on healthcare reform are still emerging. And that doesn't even cover the many market forces that have emerged over the past several years: consumer-driven healthcare, adoption of new care delivery and payment models and the role of technology. All of this influences how patients receive care, so change may be the only constant in 2017 and 2018.

One approach we have seen to manage this change, especially in New York, is consolidation. At HSS, we don't believe "bigger is better." We believe that "better is better." While our "better" does include being bigger, we think it's important to do this while maintaining our independence and leveraging our strengths — in fact, this is what causes us to get bigger.

We constantly ask ourselves: How do we continuously get better at what we do, regardless of our past successes or where the industry stands? We have moved from looking at quality in the hospital to quality (and value) over the lifetime of a patient, starting with a person's disease, extending to the intervention and continuing through until the patient is better and stays healthy. Our ability to be "better" allows HSS to be the global leader in musculoskeletal health. Because HSS focuses only on this one disease category, if you will, along with other ingredients in our operating model, we are able to produce superior outcomes from our high volumes and repeatable processes.

Our specialization not only allows us to provide the best care for our patients, but it also helps us grow. We firmly believe that we need to share our specialized knowledge to benefit the rest of the world. This can be done in the traditional sense of reaching more patients in more places. It can also be done by offering new products and services related to musculoskeletal health. Here at HSS, we are doing both — by opening new facilities in our region, partnering with providers across the world and spreading our expertise through innovation and the commercialization of ideas. We believe this is a durable plan for our organization to succeed in managing change in 2017 and beyond.

Q: What's the last memorable thing you've read?

LS: Keeping current with what's going on around the world and in our country is consuming. My last favorite book was The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. It's a rich history with many lessons but also an extraordinary story about the power of culture and the performance of a team, as well as how they attained a level of results that were otherwise found unattainable.

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