Smith has been at Penrose-St. Francis for more than five years, and started as its chief operating officer. Today, he’s the senior vice president and chief administrative officer, a position he’s held since January. Smith is responsible for operations at both Penrose Hospital, 2222 N. Nevada Ave., and for the St. Francis Medical Center, at Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard.
In his new role, Smith has big plans: an Orthopedic Center of Excellence, expanding the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and bringing in another medical office building to house more outpatient and physician services.
How long have you worked at Penrose? In what positions?
I’ve been with Penrose-St. Francis Health Services for five and a half years. I joined the organization as the chief operating officer for the system. In January 2013, I was promoted to the role of chief administrative officer. In this new position, I have responsibility for all of the hospital operations, including all clinical services, at St. Francis Medical Center, Penrose Hospital as well as our smaller outpatient locations around the community.
Now that you’re heading up the staff at St. Francis, what are your main goals for the hospital?
When we opened St. Francis Medical Center in 2008, our main goal was to carry on the legacy and mission of the Sisters of St. Francis for whom the hospital is named, and to serve the growing population of north and northeast Colorado Springs. We believe we have certainly done that as St. Francis Medical Center has been a tremendous success story since its opening.
The number of patients served at St. Francis Medical Center has grown each year. We’ve seen growth in all of our major services. In fact, it’s interesting to note one example: The Emergency Department at St. Francis Medical Center now treats as many patients as the Emergency Department at Penrose Hospital. However, as wonderful as the growth has been, I think all of us are most proud of the incredible culture of caring that the team at St. Francis Medical Center has built and continues to build. This is evident in that Becker’s Hospital Review just named St. Francis Medical Center to its “100 Great Community Hospitals” list.
We also want to continue to meet the demands for more health care services in the area. We are making several strategic investments in the facility and services at St. Francis Medical Center. First, we are expanding our orthopedic capabilities into an Orthopedic Center of Excellence by building a dedicated Orthopedic inpatient unit and operating rooms which we plan to open in 2014. Second, we are expanding our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as well as our labor and delivery services. Third, we are partnering with a third-party development company to bring another medical office building to the campus to house more outpatient and physician services. It is very important to the Penrose-St. Francis Board, our leadership team and our medical staff that we foster “system-ness” between St. Francis Medical Center and Penrose Hospital in addition to all of our outpatient and physician locations.
How will health care reform change the way you do business?
I think you need to define “health care reform” before you can answer that question accurately. Most people think of the PPACA legislation passed in 2010 as the impetus for health care reform, and to be sure, it is an important driver of change. However, the legislation itself was really aimed at increasing the number of people with insurance (e.g. Medicaid expansion, individual mandate, no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, online health insurance exchanges, etc.) with the goal of providing better access to health care for more people. Since individuals and families tend to use more services when they are covered, the federal legislation’s impact to health care providers will likely be more volume, but reimbursement at a lower average rate.
However, reforming the health care system is also being driven by two major trends in the market: consumerism and value-based purchasing by employers and other payers. These forces have been at work much longer than the new law, but they are now becoming much more powerful and sophisticated. Essentially, individual consumers have much more knowledge at their disposal for health care decision-making, and they are demanding a better product at a better price. They want more value. Similarly, those who pay for health care “in bulk,” like employers and the government, also want more value because they cannot continue to afford the current system.
What are the biggest challenges in the health care industry?
Ultimately, what all of this means for the health care system is that we must do more with less. Locally, Penrose-St. Francis must be a leader in a massive effort to re-organize how we deliver care into a more efficient, effective and personal manner. Centura Health Neighborhoods is one example of how we are looking at healthcare in new ways.
Along with the other hospitals within Centura Health, we are focusing on cost savings initiatives in supply chain, process improvement, automation, and reducing variability, all things that other industries do as well. Speaking for the health care industry, we also have to “work smarter not harder.” There is a lot of waste driven by duplication and lack of transparency in health care. We are still a very fragmented industry with many silos — hospitals, physicians, health plans and employers. We must work more together and much more collaboratively. Reform is driving us to become much more integrated.