Academic journal article Journal of Healthcare Management

Laura S. Kaiser, FACHE, President and CEO, SSM Health

Academic journal article Journal of Healthcare Management

Laura S. Kaiser, FACHE, President and CEO, SSM Health

Article excerpt

Laura S. Kaiser, FACHE, leads a large, multistate health system. Still, she never loses sight of her sharp corporate focus on meeting the needs of the individuals in each of her organization's communities.

Ms. Kaiser is president and CEO of SSM Health, an integrated health system with services in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. She is responsible for operations at 24 hospitals with more than 5,300 licensed beds, as well as more than 300 medical group locations. In 2018, Modern Healthcare named her one of the "100 Most Influential People in Healthcare." Ms. Kaiser came to SSM Health in May 2017 from Intermountain Healthcare, where she had served as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Previously, she held senior leadership roles at Ascension Health.

Her conversation with Eric Ford, PhD, editor of the Journal of Healthcare Management, edited here for length and clarity, is also featured in the ACHE podcast "A Leader Who Cares," available via iTunes or www.ache.org/journals.

Dr. Ford: How can health systems make care more affordable while also improving quality and access to services?

Ms. Kaiser: Cost, quality, and access are absolutely interconnected. It is impossible for me to separate them because all three must be in place to provide the healthcare that people need. As a Catholic healthcare organization, we believe every person deserves access to high-quality, compassionate care, which will continue to be a challenge if healthcare maintains its cost-intensive trajectory. Therefore, making care affordable is central to our mission.

We are concerned about the sustainability of healthcare as it approaches 20% of our nation's gross domestic product. Creating a more affordable and sustainable healthcare system is requiring significant redesign of our care platforms. At SSM Health, we are leveraging innovative technology, processes, and practices to increase convenience and reduce cost, and we are tirelessly advocating for payment reform to ensure providers are paid for delivering both acute and preventive care. We are also focused on reducing waste. A few years ago, a PBS documentary called Money and Medicine attributed about 40% of the cost in healthcare to waste. If we all could collectively tackle that problem, our healthcare system would be more affordable for everyone.

Dr. Ford: Does SSM Health's participation in the accountable care organization program support your efforts to improve healthcare?

Ms. Kaiser: Yes, it is one of the ways we are trying to be creative and innovative. I know many of my colleagues across the countr y are doing the same-partnering with patients and with other providers to help patients be as healthy as possible.

Dr. Ford: Speaking of innovation, tell us about SSM Health's involvement with the generic drug company Civica Rx. Why are you and your healthcare partners such as Mayo Clinic, HCA Healthcare, and other original investors so interested in it?

Ms. Kaiser: Civica Rx is a passion of mine. The project originated with my former colleagues at Intermountain Healthcare. The impetus was the dramatic increase in prices and supply shortages we and our patients were experiencing for medicines that had been off patent for many years. …

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