Why Allegheny's CEO took on a new title

Cynthia Hundorfean has served as president and CEO of Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network since February 2016. But she is taking on a new enterprise role once the new year arrives: chief living health development officer. 

Ms. Hundorfean's new position will center her focus on spreading the network's "living health" strategy, hence the title. She said it is the logical next step for the system, which is accumulating data to support the strategy. 

"We have done so much work in the living health area that we just need to get out and start talking about it," Ms. Hundorfean told Becker's

The 22,000-employee Allegheny Health Network falls under Pittsburgh-based Highmark Health's umbrella, alongside health insurer Highmark. It was built up in 2013 to be a competitive, value-based care system in Western Pennsylvania — and as an alternative to other health systems for Highmark. The first few years after Allegheny's inception were spent bringing the hospitals together and teaching them to operate as a system rather than in competition, Ms. Hundorfean told Becker's. Then the health network worked with Highmark to establish joint goals, "living health" being one of them. 

Born of the system's "blended approach," the living health model zeroes in on personalized, preventive care, thus improving experience and outcomes while lowering costs. There is no longer a line between Allegheny and Highmark, which allows the provider and payer to share and access a wider breadth of information, according to Ms. Hundorfean. 

When a patient visits their physician, they should be getting a personalized care plan, Ms. Hundorfean said. Social determinants of health, such as whether patients can get to appointments and which medications they can afford, should be taken into account. Between Allegheny and Highmark, there is plenty of information available to make those decisions, from EMR data to payer data, she said. 

"We had two halves of the puzzle: our piece, which is the provider piece, and the payer piece. And when we put them together, we always come up with better decisions together than we would have separately," Ms. Hundorfean said. 

The growing body of data demonstrates the model's success, Daniel Laurent, vice president of corporate communications for Allegheny Health Network, told Becker's

"We have an entire analytics group. There are probably 300, 400 metrics we look at on a weekly basis — and we're watching them like crazy," Ms. Hundorfean said. 

Armed with that proof, Ms. Hundorfean said she is ready to share the living health model with other systems across the country. It is work she has already started with provider partners such as Hershey, Pa.-based Penn State Health, Allentown, Pa.-based Lehigh Valley Health Network and Newark, Del.-based ChristianaCare. But at the end of her first year, Ms. Hundorfean said she hopes if another health system heard the term "living health," they would immediately think of Highmark Health. 

To facilitate understanding of the strategy, Ms. Hundorfean said she sees herself speaking at conferences but believes most of the conversations will happen internally with representatives from different health systems. She told Becker's she wants different systems to learn from one another. 

Ms. Hundorfean will also play a role in integrating Bruce Meyer, MD, Highmark Health's new Western Pennsylvania market president, into the system. No new president and CEO has been named to Allegheny Health Network yet, as Dr. Meyer will choose how to compose his leadership team in his first few months, Ms. Hundorfean said. 

Prioritizing the living health model will continue to hold patients' well-being at the organization's core, according to Ms. Hundorfean.

"We always put the patient in the middle of every decision, and I think we made a lot of decisions that would have been done differently otherwise," she said.

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