Healthcare must evolve traditionally adversarial relationships: 3 questions with North American Medical Management COO Karen Gee

In this special Speaker Series, Becker's Healthcare caught up with Karen Gee, senior vice president and COO, North American Medical Management, California, an OptumCare company. 

Ms. Gee will speak on a panel at Becker's Hospital Review 7th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable titled "Advancing Patient Care Through Collaboration; Leveraging Technology for Integrated Care" at 10:10 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Learn more about the event and register to attend in Chicago.

Question: What keeps you excited and motivated to come to work each day?

Karen Gee: Moving the market toward value-based care and causing some positive disruption keeps me highly engaged in my work.  I enjoy working with and educating providers on value-based care, so they can begin to take the lead in transitioning from fee-for-volume and taking financial accountability to improve patient care coordination. This effort requires a significant culture change and rethinking traditional arrangements and relationships. The challenge is immense, but I know I have the support of wonderful team and proven Optum programs and technology. Knowing that what we are doing will make a difference in the health of patients and communities is incredibly satisfying.

Q: How can hospital executives and physicians ensure they're aligned around the same strategic goals?

KG: Hospital executives and physicians must work closely together to build a sustainable care coordination model in order for their organization to successfully engage in value-based arrangements that are focused on reducing the inefficiencies in healthcare and patient experience and taking some financial accountability for the delivery of care. We cannot rely primarily upon annual rate escalations to support the viability of our respective organizations. A value-based risk arrangement will push physicians and hospitals to evolve the traditional adversarial relationship to partnerships. Many hospitals will need to become comfortable with sharing governance with physicians. Value-based risk agreements will support collaboration on transition of care programs, utilization of lower alternatives sites of care and development of new technologies and programs. The net is that both hospital executives and physicians stand to gain when working together around care delivery focused on driving higher value for the individual patient and the patient population at large.

Q: What is one piece of professional advice you would give to your younger self?

KG: Always remain curious. I consider myself a forever student. I believe this attitude has enabled me to pivot quickly when situations change, challenge the status quo to ensure we remain innovative and better support the development of future leaders by encouraging and empowering them to do the same.

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