Children's Minnesota CEO Dr. Marc Gorelick's top piece of advice: Don't underestimate the power of appreciation

Marc Gorelick, MD, brings more than 25 years of experience in pediatric emergency medicine, clinical research and hospital leadership to his role as president and CEO of Children's Minnesota.

Dr. Gorelick initially joined Minneapolis-based Children's Minnesota in March 2017 as COO and just seven months later was promoted to chief executive of the organization. 

He previously served as executive vice president and COO of Milwaukee-based Children's Hospital of Wisconsin; held faculty positions at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; and took on clinical leadership roles at several children's hospitals, including Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Here, Dr. Gorelick speaks with Becker's Hospital Review about one of his proudest moments since joining Children's Minnesota, key challenges in pediatric medicine and his vision for care delivery in 10 years.

Editor's Note: Responses were lightly edited for length, clarity and style.

Question: What has been one of your proudest moments at Children's Minnesota?

Dr. Marc Gorelick: Naming our first chief equity and inclusion officer. Minnesota has some serious disparities in health outcomes, and as an immigration hub, our state is increasingly diverse. While we undertook some individual efforts aimed at improving the diversity of our workforce and reducing disparities, I wanted this to become an organizationwide priority. I wanted to make sure it was not just a series of projects and initiatives but something that is woven into the fabric of what we do. Our chief equity and inclusion officer is helping us identify key strategies and measures of success, with real accountability. One example is our new equity index, which is now one of the metrics included in the management and executive incentive plans.

Q: Can you describe some of the unique challenges in pediatric healthcare?

MG: First is around payment and policy. While kids are almost 30 percent of the population, they account for only about 8 percent of healthcare spending, so pediatrics does not get the same level of attention from government and industry leaders as adult care. In addition, children are relatively more likely to live in poverty, and Medicaid is the largest source of health insurance for them, and there are some political uncertainties surrounding that program. At the same time, the number of children with serious healthcare needs is relatively small, making it hard for most provider organizations to achieve the necessary scale to drive optimal outcomes and efficiency.

Second, the parents of today's pediatric patients are millennials, who have a very different set of expectations than the majority of adult patients around how they want to access and experience the healthcare system. Pediatric health systems are challenged to respond.

Finally, many of the looming workforce shortages in healthcare are accentuated in pediatrics due to the incredibly subspecialized nature of what we do.

Q: What is your vision for healthcare delivery in 10 years?

MG: I would hope we can become more truly patient and family-centered, as we are way behind other service industries. Imagine having to go to the bank to get a certified check or money order every time you wanted to buy something from a store. Or going to an attorney to draw up your will, and she tells you who you're leaving your estate to. It sounds absurd, but much of what is done in healthcare isn't too different. We need to organize our systems around the convenience, needs and preferences of those we serve. Some of this can be achieved through technology, but it will require a parallel change in culture. And I don't mean the kind of consumerism that says "the customer is always right." They are not. But while hospitals and healthcare providers are experts in clinical medicine, patients are experts in themselves. As a result, the patient-provider relationship needs to be more of a partnership.

Q: If you could pass along a piece of advice to another hospital CEO, what would it be?

MG: Don't underestimate the power of a note of appreciation to people who don't expect it.

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