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Council Fellows Celebrates a Successful Second Class

Council Fellows Celebrates a Successful Second Class
by Cindy Sanders | Nashville Medical News | Jun 19, 2014

Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014 8:47 am
Council Fellows Celebrates a Successful Second Class

Guest speaker Marie Golden shares a point with participating healthcare executives

Now in its second year, the popular Nashville Health Care Council Fellows initiative is set to graduate its second class on June 6 at the Noah Liff Opera Center. Launched in 2013, the program engages healthcare executives tasked with leading the industry through an era of unprecedented change in an educational setting focused on exploring innovative ideas to address some of healthcare’s greatest challenges.

Over the course of eight daylong sessions held between January and June, the 32 executives selected for the Class of 2014 had the chance to participate in the unique curriculum based on three foundational elements:

  • Engagement in a forum for thought leadership and collaborative dialogue,
  • Experience of issues facing healthcare through immersion activities, and
  • Exploration of personal leadership styles and development.

The program is co-directed by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, and Larry Van Horn, PhD, associate professor of Economics and Management and executive director of Health Affairs at Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management.

In unveiling the participants chosen for this second class last December, Frist noted, “This Fellows class includes some of the nation’s strongest healthcare talent and represents a broad spectrum of the industry, incorporating provider, payer, technology, finance, policy and other sectors.”

Although very similar in scope to the inaugural programming, Van Horn said there were some small tweaks for 2014. “We spent a little more time on ACA implementation this year given the timeliness,” he said. “We’ve added more international perspective to this year’s content and curriculum and allocated more time to the discussion of wellness and population health.”

Van Horn noted, “There’s a lot of learning and cross-pollination amongst the seasoned executives that constitute the Fellows class. We learn from each other and broaden our perspectives.” In fact, he continued, a new addition to 2014 is a teaching module led by the Fellows and focused on the subcomponent of healthcare in which they operate. The short presentations, called Life in the Trenches, gave the executives the opportunity to share a point of view from their industry sector.

Beth Bierbower, president of the Employer Group Segment for Humana and a 2014 Fellow, said, “It’s exciting to meet with others in the industry and network, but more than that to gain an understanding of what their issues are. You get a different view of the system.”

For her Life in the Trenches presentation, she said she took a broader industry perspective. “This industry is at an inflection point – the point and time the fundamentals of your business change.” She added premiums are rising, the number of people living with chronic conditions continues to increase, costs are up … all of these issues make business as usual unsustainable over the long haul. Once you recognize an inflection point, Bierbower said the next step is to ask, “How do you take advantage of the of the challenges that ensue?” She continued with evident enthusiasm, “Technology has the ability to change the game.”

In addition to sharing the inherent knowledge of the co-directors and Fellows housed in the classroom, the participants also benefited from presentations by a host of nationally recognized healthcare leaders, policymakers, educators and authors. The depth and breadth of the 2014 speaker’s roster underscored the respect the industry has for this unique program.

“We’ve had fabulous speakers and case studies,” Bierbower said, adding the interactive nature brought the information to life.

Tapping into the immense local talent, the 2014 Fellows heard from a host of leaders including hospital operations gurus Richard Bracken and Jana Davis (HCA), Bill Carpenter (LifePoint), Mike Schatzlein, MD (Saint Thomas Health), and Jeff Balser, MD (Vanderbilt University Medical Center). Other local leaders operating on a national and international scale including Joey Jacobs (Arcadia Healthcare), Ben Leedle (Healthways) and Gene Boerger (Emdeon) shared perspectives on everything from integrating mental and physical healthcare to population health and wellness to product innovation.

The class also attracted experts from further afield. Toby Cosgrove, MD, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic; Princeton University Professor Uwe Reinhardt; Dean Ornish, MD, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute; political pundit Frank Luntz; George Barrett, CEO of Cardinal Health; and National Geographic Fellow and best-selling author Dan Buettner were among the visiting speakers.

“There hasn’t been a session that hasn’t been extremely valuable,” Bierbower noted. One speaker that made a big impression was Frank Luntz. “He talked to us about language and how the language you use really makes a difference. It’s not what you say but what people hear.”

Another highlight this year was a field trip to the Entrepreneurship Center. “We exposed the Fellows to approaches for structuring innovative organizations,” noted Van Horn. The executives, he said, had the opportunity to engage in hands-on visioning and strategy exercises with the entrepreneurs launching companies that seek to provide solutions to some of healthcare’s toughest issues.

Van Horn said the makeup of the 2014 Fellows class also helped further broaden perspectives. “This year we had more diversity in the classroom. We had more leaders who are with smaller companies, seven women, two physicians, a PhD.”

What hasn’t changed at all from the inaugural program is the energy and interest among the participants. “It’s such a vibrant classroom experience when you have these seasoned and successful executives focused on the same problem … which is how do we transform our healthcare industry to create sustainable value in a world of declining resources,” Van Horn said. “We just have these incredible discussions. I look forward to being there every class we have,” he added.

After a short time to celebrate graduation and evaluate this second program, Frist, Van Horn and the leadership of the Nashville Health Care Council will turn their attention to planning for the Class of 2015. For more information about Council Fellows and future offerings, go online to

The Fellows initiative is presented in partnership with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Community Health Systems, HCA, Healthways, LifePoint Hospitals and Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.


The New Group of Council FellowsCongratulations Class of 2014Elizabeth Bierbower:President, Employer Group Segment, Humana

Marty Bonick:President, Division 1 Operations, Community Health Systems

Charles W. Byrge II:President & CEO, Harpeth Capital

Phil Clark:VP, Finance & CFO, EnableComp and Complete Holdings Group Systems

Will Clark:SVP, Strategy and Brand, Brookdale Senior Living

Phillip A. Clendenin:EVP, Operations, AmSurg

John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH:Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health

David Duckworth:CFO, Acadia Healthcare

Mitch Edgeworth:COO, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

David Frederiksen:President & CEO, PatientFocus

Robert Gallagher:Division VP, DaVita

Paul Gilbert:EVP & Chief Legal Officer, LifePoint Hospitals

Meaghen Greene:SVP, Strategy & Marketing, American HomePatient

Robert Harris:Partner, Waller

Daniel Hart:VP, Corporate Development, MEDHOST

Scott Huebner:President, Operations, Cigna-HealthSpring

Angela Humphreys:Member, Bass Berry & Sims

John Maki:VP, Sales, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

Will Morrow:VP, Development, HCA

Eric Paul:SVP & Chief Managed Care Officer, IASIS Healthcare

J. Edward Pearson:SVP & COO, HealthStream

Rosemary Plorin:President, Lovell Communications

Kirk Porter:SVP, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Ed Powell, PhD:Chairman, eMD

Paul Rein:CFO, Sarah Cannon Research Institute

David Rogero:Principal, Cressey & Company

Tammy Stephens:SVP, Operations Finance, Healthways

Cathy R. Taylor, DrPh, MSN, RN:Dean, College of Health Sciences, Belmont University

Martha Thorne:General Manager, Allscripts

David Vreeland:Partner & Co-founder, Cumberland Consulting Group

Michael Wiechart:President & CEO, Capella Healthcare

Herman Williams, MD:CMO, RegionalCare Hospital Partners

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