From Finance to Leading Orthopedic Operations: Q&A With Dereesa Reid, COO of Hoag Orthopedic Institute

Dereesa Reid went through two major transitions in the past year: She moved 1,200 miles from western Texas to California and also became the COO of Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, Calif. She says both of the transitions went well, and that can be seen in the success that Hoag Orthopedic Institute has found since she took the COO position. The hospital has more than 80 board certified orthopedic surgeons and over 300 physicians on medical staff. It is the largest orthopedic facility on the west coast, performing more than 16,000 orthopedic surgeries throughout Hoag Orthopedic Institute’s facilities, which include a 70 bed hospital and two ambulatory surgery centers.

Ms. Reid shares her experiences moving halfway across the country and sitting at the helm of Hoag Orthopedic Institute with a team of four physician executive leaders.

Question: You recently moved from west Texas to California. How did that transition go?
Dereesa Reid: The transition went very well. I was familiar with California and looked forward to making a change. It is a global community of people from around the world here in Irvine. I am a fifth-generation west Texan, so this is a pioneer move for me, just like my family members were pioneers settling in west Texas many years ago.

Q: Before you became COO of Hoag Orthopedic Institute, you were most recently on the financial side of healthcare. Why did you make the switch back to operations?

DR: I had a full career in the agriculture industry, but I always loved healthcare and wanted to get into operations.

It has always served me well to have a financial background. After completing my MBA, I was recruited by Texas Tech's University Health Sciences Center for my first administrative job in healthcare, and the physicians looked at my financial background as a complement to their department. That job helped me make the transition into healthcare. After my stint as an Academic Practice Administrator, I served in a variety of operational roles working in senior level positions across the breadth of integrated healthcare. You don’t get anywhere in life without someone helping you along. Many times in my career it has been the doctors who have helped and encouraged me to make the next career transition.

Q: What aspects of your position have changed or evolved since you started as COO?

DR: I've been at Hoag Orthopedic Institute for about a year, and it has been a fascinating year. It was the Institute's second year of operations, so it was moving from starting up to scaling up operations and being able to handle volume and maintain quality, high patient satisfaction scores and reducing costs.

In a new facility, you're starting from scratch, so you're not undoing bad habits, which is great. The challenge for me has been to put in infrastructure so we can maintain the highest levels of operations.

Q: What is the most challenging part of your job?

DR: Chief operations officers are often tasked with managing limited resources and multiple demands. You're constantly prioritizing what is most important in order to meet organizational goals. It is similar to Apple — innovative organizations have a lot of great ideas, so those ideas have to be vetted and prioritized to ensure the highest quality and value is delivered to our patients.

Healthcare reform, quality and cost are the basis of what we do. We need to have those core focuses. I think things that we focused on in the past as administrators may not be the top priority now. People have to be laser focused on quality and costs.

Q: What have you done to remain focused on quality and costs?

DR: I measure. We implemented financial and operational metrics at Hoag Orthopedic Institute. What is measured is the first step in being able to control cost and achieve quality outcomes. Once you set metrics in place, it is not something you leave alone — communication of progress must permeate the organization throughout the. We have to have key metrics be at the top of your staff's minds every day. That is really critical.

Q: What accomplishment are you most proud of since you joined Hoag Orthopedic?

DR: As a COO, or anyone in the C-suite, your accomplishments are measured through the accomplishments of your team. You have to empower people and make sure everyone is moving in the same direction. Alignment is mission critical. I'm proud of the accomplishments of the whole organization. One of the things I'm most proud of is the patient care. I've see patient satisfaction and quality outcomes at a very high level and that cannot happen without a cohesive team.

I'm proud of our culture — culture drives everything. I continue to be amazed by the physician leadership of this organization. Their sincerity of making Hoag Orthopedic Institute the best organization is constant. I'm proud of the organization I'm a part of and what we've done in the past year.

Q: How do you maintain physician relationships as a C-suite executive?

DR: To me it's just natural. My first job in healthcare was working for physicians, and throughout my career I've always worked closely with physicians. It seems natural as part of my job. I think you need to fundamentally enjoy understanding the clinical care that physicians provide. I hold what physicians do in very high regard, and I think they sense that.

Q: What is coming in the future for Hoag Orthopedic that you're most excited about?

DR: I think as an organization, we have really accepted healthcare reform and realized it is something that has to happen. We cannot continue to do things the way we've always done it. We are already doing bundled payment and travel medicine, and we understand quality outcomes and driving cost down.

I'm excited to see how we embrace change. We are looking to the future and know there will be challenges, but we strive to be an innovator in meeting the challenges of healthcare reform.

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