The unique perspectives of healthcare leaders under 40

Leaders of all backgrounds bring varying styles and perspectives to roles at hospitals and health systems. This includes the next generation of healthcare leaders, who bring their own approaches to the issues they focus on each day, including philanthropy, technology and culture.

Becker's asked some of our "rising stars" under 40 to answer the following question: As a young leader in healthcare, what unique perspectives or approaches do you bring to your role that you believe are particularly valuable in driving innovation and addressing the evolving needs of patients and healthcare providers?

Below are their responses, in alphabetical order. 

Note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Ryan Ashlock. President of Adventist Health Castle (Oahu, Hawaii): Consistently staying curious is an approach that I take to drive innovation and to find area of opportunity to better serve our patients and community. Regardless of the background and experience that a leader brings, by staying curious you can identify areas of opportunity to drive organizational improvements. The healthcare industry is complex, which I believe requires leaders to be asking questions on an ongoing basis to challenge the status quo, resulting in meaningful innovation opportunities.

Dzenan Berberovic. Chief Philanthropy Officer of Avera Health (Sioux Falls, S.D.): As Avera's senior officer for philanthropy, I serve in a unique role as the connector between our most generous benefactors and the key priorities of our health system. As we address Avera's strategic agenda and priorities, my colleagues count on me to offer the voice of our donors during our decision-making process and prioritization of initiatives. I strive to ensure that individuals and organizations who are most generous to our ministry are represented as we address the evolving needs of those who trust their care to Avera and their loved ones. Additionally, I offer the unique perspective of two key employee constituencies: those who are age 40 and under and new Americans.

Edward Borrego. Senior Vice President and CEO at Jackson West Medical Center (Doral, Fla.): As a young leader in the healthcare industry, I bring a fresh perspective that embraces technology, data-driven decision-making, and interdisciplinary collaboration. The faces of care are not static and require continuous almost daily evolution. An understanding, investment and leveraging of emerging technologies, alternative financing and care models,  direct-to-consumer platforms and other approaches to improve patient care and streamline processes must always be considered.

I strongly believe that all leaders, no matter the age, can rally around what all of our consumers and caregivers value the most, and to me that's a patient-centered approach, focusing on empathy, communication and personalized care to meet the evolving needs of patients and healthcare providers alike. My agility and willingness to experiment with new ideas and solutions contribute to driving innovation and addressing the complex challenges healthcare faces today.

Michael Burke. Chief of International and Business Development Services at UCLA Health (Los Angeles): Whether you're new or established, it's important to find lessons in everything that we do to improve our organizations. My role exposes me to health systems from around the world, and with that the unique perspectives of individuals within those organizations. This can lead to novel approaches to solving our complex challenges locally — allowing our teams to consider ways other healthcare organizations have approached problems with differing resource, government or financial constraints — leading to an optimal outcome. 

Chad Cathey. COO at Lakeview Hospital LCMC Health (New Orleans): As a young leader in healthcare, I contribute a fresh perspective, emphasizing technology and data-driven solutions to streamline processes, enhance patient access and improve experiences. Prioritizing collaboration, I bring diverse perspectives together to foster innovation, addressing both patient and provider needs. Adaptability and agility are crucial in navigating the rapidly changing healthcare landscape, staying ahead of emerging trends and technologies while maintaining a focus on empathy and the personalized care that our patients have come to depend on from LCMC Health and its family of hospitals.

Katie Eimers, MSEd. Chief Culture and Engagement Officer at UNC Health (Chapel Hill, N.C.): I have recently moved into a new position as UNC Health's chief culture and engagement officer. In this role, I have the unique opportunity to work with teammates across the organization to build a culture that makes each of us feel like we're working exactly where we belong, where we're proud to work, and which enables us to bring the very best care and experience to our patients. It's daunting to think about influencing culture at a large organization, but I've been excited by the enthusiastic response from teammates.

David Elop. Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chief Development Officer at Providence (Renton, Wash.): This is a topic I'm incredibly passionate about, as it is core to what I do daily. In my role as chief development officer, my work is to ensure Providence is at the forefront of innovation in healthcare, and my focus is on bringing forward ideas and prioritizing in a way that will yield the best patient and caregiver experiences while driving accretive financial results for the health system so we can sustain and grow the mission. There are a few key mindsets which I've found particularly helpful in doing this work.

Providence, like many other health systems across the country, endured a tumultuous few years with industry headwinds. It's my job, even as we face headwinds, to maintain a future focus and make sure that we continue to invest in the capabilities and technologies our patients will need five years down the road. If anything, the challenges the industry has faced present an imperative to create lasting change by investing in new technologies and engaging in innovative partnerships that will ultimately enhance our ability to deliver high-quality care for our patients and communities.

I also continue to look for inspiration from other industries and aim to bring that to healthcare. Other industries have historically optimized their portfolios over time; this is a mindset which is core to my work. Healthcare profits are shifting away from care delivery toward services and technology. We are investing behind these themes, and often are doing so in partnership. Strategic partnerships, including Microsoft (specifically brought in to modernize our technology) and Truveta (empowering researchers with access to complete, representative and timely real-world data) are examples I'm particularly excited about.

Additionally, I recognize that innovation is a team sport — I have an incredible team of caregivers I work with at Providence, both within the corporate development team and across the organization. When thinking about potential innovations and solutions, we assess them in a team-based approach, bringing in a variety of relevant leaders from different backgrounds like physicians, clinicians, finance, revenue cycle and IT. This enables us as a corporate development team to work on far more practical solutions but is also a fun and inspiring process during which we get great ideas from around the organization.

Eric Gallagher. CEO for Ochsner Health Network (New Orleans): An approach I try to bring to my role to drive healthcare innovation is to challenge ourselves as individuals, as teams and as an organization to widen the aperture through which we view our scope of accountability and influence. There are lots of historical and artificial boundaries implied in job titles or team/department names, and even in industry terminology. Tackling the most complex challenges and driving innovation and growth in healthcare comes when individuals, teams and organizations have the courage to responsibly and collaboratively cross those "boundaries" for the good of patients and healthcare providers. I believe it's my role to cultivate an environment that empowers our employees, our care teams, and our organization to take those leaps across the aisle. 

That empowerment can come in many forms — for teams, it may be through having the data or digital tools to be able to do so. For individuals, it may be through less tangible but equally important modes like motivation, a nudge or simply permission. For the broader health system organization, it's about engagement, education and advocacy. Innovation is an ongoing, evolving process and not a one-time event. So I think a culture of experimentation and continuous learning, coupled with a consistent challenge to widen our aperture of accountability, is critical to driving healthcare innovation.

Emma Grossman. CFO of Dignity Health-St. John's Regional Medical Center (Oxnard, Calif.) and St. John's Hospital Camarillo (Calif.): I am admittedly a millennial. We are a unique generation that experienced the seismic shift of technology as we came of age. I am humbled by the fact I experienced the internet in its infancy. It gave me good perspective on how significantly technology has changed our lives. As a younger healthcare leader, it has led me to advocate and embrace robotics with minimally invasive surgery and machine learning in the early detection of cancer. With the most advanced tools in the hands of our providers, we are able to give patients the best quality care possible. 

Kevin Hoak. Senior Vice President and COO of Roper St. Francis Healthcare (Charleston, S.C.): As a young, but aging, leader in the healthcare industry, my approach is rooted in embracing technology and the data that is a result of it — leveraging data-driven insights to inform decision-making, prioritize user-centric design to meet evolving patient needs, and encourage a culture of adaptability to drive innovation to address the challenges faced by both patients and healthcare providers.

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