On August 23, Leadership Health Care (LHC) members attended an executive briefing with Paul Kusserow, president and CEO of Amedisys, the largest independent provider of home health, hospice and personal care services. The discussion was moderated by Brandon Edwards, CEO of ReviveHealth, who worked under Kusserow when they both worked at Tenet Healthcare Corporation in the late 1990s. During last week’s discussion, Kusserow touched on his role as CEO, Nashville’s place in the health care landscape and advice he has for emerging leaders.
When Kusserow joined Amedisys in 2014, he was brought in as a turnaround CEO—someone who takes a struggling company and returns it to solvency. Since then, Amedisys has grown six times in value and is regarded as a leader in the home health space. One way he and his team accomplished this is through data.
“In order to control costs and outcomes in health care you need to have both services and data. When I first showed up at Amedisys, we didn’t have data,” said Kusserow. “Today we use data across our 500+ locations to provide better outcomes for our patients.”
In addition to prioritizing data, Kusserow makes it a point to go out into the field and spend time with his employees who are out doing the hard work every day. He spends much of time communicating with people, because that’s his job.
“In my role as president and CEO, I view myself as Chief Caregiver,” said Kusserow. “My job is to make sure I take care of my people so they can take care of our patients. In order to deliver value to our patients, I have to focus on our people.”
He also moved Amedisys’ executive office to Nashville in 2015, a move he feels was necessary for the company’s future.
“Nashville is the mecca for health care,” said Kusserow. “I can’t think of another city where you could have a group of people with as much diversity and industry knowledge, which is why we moved here.”
Kusserow’s journey to becoming a CEO was not a typical one. While he has more than 20 years of health care experience, he also spent time owning a canoe and kayaking company—experience most CEOs don’t have. When asked what he would tell those in the audience of emerging leaders in the health care, Kusserow had some simple advice—listen.
“Not being a CEO until I was in my 50s, I learned a lot about the role from really bad bosses,” said Kusserow. “I learned that the archetypal CEO who is financially driven and dominant doesn’t work. Instead, I learned in order to be a successful leader you have to listen to the market, listen to the people you serve and, most importantly, listen to your employees.”
This executive briefing was part of ongoing programming for the Council’s Leadership Health Care (LHC) initiative, offering members insight from national industry leaders in an interactive setting. For more information about LHC, visit www.leadershiphealthcare.com.