CEO: Running Temple Health 'most challenging task I've ever had'

Mike Young, the CEO of Philadelphia-based Temple Health, said managing the system's cash-strapped safety-net hospitals is "the most challenging task I've ever had" in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mr. Young likened operating the academic health system to playing poker with two cards while everyone else has five. Before becoming Temple Health's CEO in February, he joined Temple University Hospital's turnaround initiatives as COO in 2018. He had previously led safety-net hospitals in Atlanta and Buffalo, N.Y.

Mr. Young's strategy as CEO has been to focus on improving clinical quality, which he said translates to better financial results. He is also focused on integrating the health system's hospitals, cancer center and labs to create better efficiencies. 

One recent initiative included combining separate testing labs at the health system's hospitals into one main lab at its flagship Temple University Hospital. There, a robotic line completes tests for a fraction of the cost, saving $1.5 million a year. Additionally, Mr. Young told the Inquirer that combining some purchasing contracts for Temple and its Fox Chase Cancer Center has saved $4 million.

Despite the pandemic, finances are improving at Temple, with the health system reporting operating income of $72 million for the last fiscal year, compared to $31.5 million a year prior, according to the report. Finances were assisted by $92 million in COVID-19 grants and more income from a Medicaid insurer that Temple co-owns with Thomas Jefferson University and Einstein Healthcare Network, both in Philadelphia. 

Jen Swails, the budget secretary for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, told the Inquirer that the state is taking notice of the changes, saying leadership "stopped what they were doing because they always did it and said, let's take a look at everything. Temple decided it was time to take a look at themselves and see where they could make some adjustments."

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