Corner Office: Nemours CEO Dr. R. Lawrence Moss on the one commitment he won't break and why he asks so many questions

R. Lawrence Moss, MD, joined Nemours Children's Health System on Oct. 1, 2018. In his first year at Nemours, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based system was ranked in seven pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report, it welcomed its first class of pediatric residents, and it launched an advanced delivery program with Christiana Care Health System for babies who require medical intervention immediately after birth.

Dr. Moss brings experience as a surgeon and physician leader to the role of president and CEO at Nemours. He most recently spent seven years as surgeon-in-chief at Nationwide Children's Hospital and as a professor of surgery at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, both in Columbus. He is a renowned biomedical researcher, and he developed and executed the first multicenter clinical trial in children's surgery.

Here, Dr. Moss shares with Becker's the advice he always carries with him, his top talent outside the C-suite and his vision for the future.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for length and clarity.

Question: What piqued your interest in healthcare?

Dr. R. Lawrence Moss: More than any other profession, it's the opportunity to make a profound difference in someone's life. I've always had a deep sense that we each have a responsibility to leave the world in a better place than we found it. I feel like I've been really blessed. I live in the most prosperous country in the world; I have good health; I grew up in loving family; I have a great education. I tell my kids we have an obligation to use that to do good for the world.

Q: What do you enjoy most about Jacksonville?

LM: I've only been here for 10 months, but my wife and I absolutely love Jacksonville. We are very much water people. There's just something about the ocean; the vastness of the horizon; the permanence. For me, it's a metaphor for the strength of our spirit as human beings, and as I look out over the ocean, I think that anything is possible.

I also love water sports. I've been an avid water skier for years. I like to paddleboard, kayak, fish. If it's in the water, I'm in.

Q: If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry's problems overnight, which would it be?

LM: Without question, it's the way we pay for healthcare. What we want in this country is health, and what we pay for is volume and complexity of medical services. We get what we pay for. I look forward to the day when we're part of a system where the financial incentives are completely aligned with incentives for patients and families, which is to be healthy and to stay out of the hospital whenever possible. Baked into that as a corollary issue is that in the U.S., we see healthcare as medical care. Health is so much more than medical care. I really look forward to the day when health systems look holistically at health, and we see ourselves as having a stake in keeping people safe, well-educated, out of poverty, in positive environments, and living the kind of life that keeps them out of the hospital.

I see an important role for Nemours Children's Health System in advancing those issues going forward. Nowhere is it more important than with kids, and we're in a unique position to really influence that.

Q: What is your greatest talent or skill outside of the C-suite?

LM: The skill that most enhances my ability in the C-suite is being a surgeon. The surgeon-patient relationship is really something special. It's one of the closest, most powerful human relationships I've ever experienced. The energy and the strength of having those relationships and bringing that to influence systems of care really plays into my thinking. Also, the technical skill and precision necessary to be a good surgeon creates a discipline and focus that has helped me work with the excellent people around me to solve complicated problems.  

Q: How do you revitalize yourself?

LM: For me, it's physical fitness and exercise. I made a commitment to myself six years ago that I was going to work out an hour a day, every day for the rest of my life. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made. It keeps my mind and spirit in great shape. It's on my calendar every day, and unless something extreme is happening, it gets done. I'd also say my family. The closeness I share with my wife and our commitment to our kids is just an endless source of joy.

Q: What is one piece of advice that you remember most clearly?

LM: "Never make a statement when you can ask a question." There's a lot in that little statement. I think it says something about the importance of respect for others, the value of curiosity and open-mindedness, and the power of humility. When I can stay in that mindset, I know I'm at my best.

Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement at Nemours?

LM: I haven't hit my first anniversary yet, so it may be presumptuous to talk about achievements. Something that is an achievement for all 8,000 of us at Nemours is we've been able to stay true to a mission that was articulated 75 years ago by Alfred I. duPont. He talked about the importance of our commitment as human beings to alleviate human suffering and to the health and well-being of kids. Those are rock-solid values, deeply baked into our organization. I'm proud we can stay true to that mission and be nimble, open and ready for major change in today's healthcare environment. We are in the position to profoundly improve the way America cares for kids. I feel that spirit every day. The fact that we've been able to get to that place, and marshal our collective energy in that direction, I think is an incredible achievement.


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