Q&A: Grady Memorial Hospital's New CEO, John Haupert

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , August 12, 2011

So, a public hospital on the mend has its man, but will he be able to keep the momentum without ruffling too many feathers to be successful? I spoke with Haupert hours after his confirmation as the new CEO by Grady's board. Following is an edited transcript of our conversation:

HealthLeaders: How do you feel following the board vote?

John Haupert: It's exciting. For the next two months, I'll be in in-between-land between hospitals. So we've got a lot to get wrapped up between now and September.

HL: Where do you start at Grady?

Haupert: As with any transition, you start by doing a whole lot of listening and research. There are lots for me to catch up on how Medicaid funds are flowing in Georgia, and to really understand their whole revenue cycle. That's the starting point.

Texas has one of the lowest (Medicaid) rates in the country. Georgia is a bit more attractive. You can see the impact that's had on Grady. In fact, they've experienced declining OB cases because Medicaid is more attractive to private practitioners than it is here. Part of that whole revenue cycle look will be how to position Grady from a service level, because the quality is already there. 

HL: You're familiar with the turnaround work of Michael Young, your predecessor, who's known as kind of a fixer. What role do you see yourself playing as the new CEO?
Haupert: I'm definitely a consensus builder and my tenure will be about developing consensus that will lead to the institution's long term viability. Most of the challenges are physical plant-related. The problem for Grady all along has been on the net revenue side.

How much of DSH and upper payment level funding is actually flowing to the institution? Mike did a lot of work on the revenue cycle, but Grady is not complete with that turnaround. Another area they've paid a lot of attention to is on service to patients, and that's another area that has be exploited going forward for Grady to build profitable market share.

HL: Parkland is among the top one or two public hospital systems in the country, by a variety of measures. What fiscal disadvantages does Grady have compared to Parkland?

Haupert: The two systems have a lot in common. They operate large acute care hospital enterprises at the main campus. We're both in downtown areas. Parkland's primary care network is larger and looks different in terms of how we've intensified the capacity and size of the offices so they can see between 20,000 and 80,000 annual visits.

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