The corner office: Sharp HealthCare's Mike Murphy on modeling a classic — yet timeless — piece of advice

Mike Murphy didn't intend on becoming a health system executive. As a certified public accountant, he didn't plan on working in healthcare at all. However, once introduced to the business, his drive to support and empower the people who deliver care has never wavered.

Mr. Murphy has served as president and CEO of San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare since June 1996. There, he oversees a workforce of more than 17,000 employees, 2,600 affiliated physicians and 2,100 volunteers. The nonprofit health system includes four acute care hospitals, three specialty hospitals, two affiliated medical groups, five urgent care centers, three skilled nursing facilities, home health, hospice, outpatient facilities and a health plan.

Under Mr. Murphy's leadership, Sharp has defined and committed to upholding The Sharp Experience, which aims to positively transform the Mike Murphyhealthcare experience for employees, physicians and patients. The Sharp Experience focuses on purpose, worthwhile work and effecting meaningful change. It has led to increased employee, physician and patient satisfaction, as well as greater loyalty and improved outcomes.

A native of Southern California, Mr. Murphy is a graduate of California State University at Long Beach. Previously, he served as chairman of the board of the Greater San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2005, and he is currently chairman of the  board of directors for the State California Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of several community-based health and social service organizations.

Here, Mr. Murphy took the time to answer Becker's Hospital Review's seven questions.

What's one thing that really piqued your interest in healthcare?
Healthcare was not part of my original plan. My education was in accounting. I worked in public accounting for about 14 years. In that time, I became exposed to a number of healthcare clients, and I found the financial challenges and intricacies of the industry extremely intriguing. But most of all, I was drawn to the purpose and the special people who work in healthcare. So eventually I moved into finance at Sharp. My first role with the health system was CFO at one of our hospitals back in 1991.

What do you enjoy most about San Diego?
There's a lot to enjoy. The standard answer for everyone in San Diego is the weather and the overall environment. I also have my family here — I grew up in San Diego. I enjoy the business climate and community too. I am actively engaged across the business community. Additionally, there is a lot to offer in the way of arts and culture. I enjoy having the opportunity to participate in that.

If you could eliminate one of the healthcare industry's problems overnight, which would it be?
If I could wave that magic wand, I'd say I'd fix the lack of interoperability. I would want to create a single national medical record that could provide all stakeholders all of the information they need at the appropriate time in a simple and useable fashion.

What do you consider your greatest talent or skill outside of the C-suite?
I think others would be the better judge of that. But what's most important to me is trying to be a great son, brother, father and husband — taking care of my family. I hope I do a good job of that, and that's priority No. 1. I'd say a top skill set of mine is being a good listener, which allows me to interact and get along with people. It helps me understand other peoples' points of view, even if they are not aligned with mine.

How do you revitalize yourself?
I could probably do a better job of that, but I mainly revitalize myself by spending time with my family. Outside of work, I spend as much time as possible with them. I do also spend one day a week on the weekend golfing, and I read a lot. Although it's mostly industry-related reading, I also read fiction for pleasure. Most recently I just finished Brad Thor's latest book, Foreign Agent.

What's one piece of advice you remember most clearly?
I remember receiving this piece of advice from my dad. He taught me the golden rule: Treat people the way you want to be treated. He always modeled that rule for me, and I hope I model it to others.

What do you consider your greatest achievement at Sharp HealthCare so far?
This isn't my personal achievement, but a great achievement that Sharp has achieved as an organization, and that's the commitment to The Sharp Experience. That entails creating the best place to work, practice medicine and receive care. It is our commitment to these seven Pillars of Excellence: Quality, Safety, Service, People, Finance, Growth and Community. The Sharp Experience has had an extremely important impact on improving our organization and helping us to achieve excellence.

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