Industry Insights

January 31, 2020

LHC Executive Briefing with Dr. Mike Cuffe, president, Physician Services Group, HCA

LHC Executive Briefing with  Dr. Mike Cuffe, president, Physician Services Group, HCA

Written by Alexis Simms, communications coordinator, Nashville Health Care Council

On January 21, Leadership Health Care kicked off 2020 with the first Executive Briefing event of the year. Moderated by Will Howorth, chief financial officer, Urgent Care at HCA Healthcare, LHC members had the chance to hear from Dr. Mike Cuffe, president, Physician Services, HCA Healthcare. In a candid hourlong conversation, Cuffe discussed the ups and downs of the physician services sphere.  

Cuffe touched on a breadth of topics ranging from beginning his career on the clinical side, to the future of the industry and even gave non-work-related life advice.

This was a refreshing conversation where LHC members had an opportunity to hear from a health care professional of the highest caliber and receive straightforward insight from one of the top minds in the industry. Continue reading to see some of the most poignant and insightful moments from the conversation.

Cuffe on HCA Healthcare’s Physician Services Group:

 “At HCA we employ some physicians directly, over 7,700 providers, and growing quickly.  Economically the cost per provider has never been better, we have been improving for a straight decade. Previously, I used to think that if you had a billion dollars of professional revenue you were at maximum scale, that’s wrong, I actually don’t know where that threshold is because as we keep getting better, we get more efficient. It’s a very interesting equation. We (the physician services group) also oversees graduate medical education with 4,700 residents, and we are growing towards 8-9,000. We are the nation’s largest provider of graduate medical education. The Physician Services Group oversees urgent care, staffing, labs, physician recruitment, and a host of other things that are related to the physician space.”

Cuffe on the Current State of the Health Care Industry and Where it may be Headed in the Next 20 years

The primary care providers (PD) in the role that we currently know may need to change. U.S. PD’s on average are not great at urgent care, chronic disease management, and even at ensuring closure of preventive care gaps. We may see a change in care for consumers, perhaps through apps on phones, or advance practice or other providers. The normal experience that comes along with visiting your primary care doctor, the waiting rooms, the long waits to get an appointment will encourage consumers to drive the change in the industry. Our lives are very instantaneous thanks to technology and waiting rooms do not fit into this narrative any longer. Due to these factors, we may see an uptick in automation and more deskilling of labor in the industry. In 20 years, ambulatory medicine will be different.

Currently there is an unbelievable amount of variability between doctors and how they individually treat diseases and prescribe medicine. In order to combat this insurmountable industry wide variation, Cuffe believes we will see an introduction towards national standardized practices of care. By standardizing care across the industry, we will in turn promulgate standards, workflows, policies and practices that will guide medicine towards more consistent outcomes. The bottom line is the industry is under scrutiny and is in for a lot of change in the next 10 – 20 years.

Cuffe on Positioning Yourself for Opportunities

“You’re already winning because you are here, as an introvert myself, I may not have attended events like this early in my career. Throughout my career health care has felt very small. There are people in this room that have left organizations I have been a part of, regardless of how you left, you’re still a part of the Nashville Health Care Community. Keeping warm relationships is important because it’s shocking how many people come back around.”

Cuffe on his Leadership Style

 “In my own leadership style, I demand that my employees disagree with me. I want loyal dissent. By demanding people disagree with me and speak up, as a leader you end up making better decisions. A part of diversity is understanding we all have experiences and thoughts that we bring to the table, as a leader if you don’t make it comfortable to facilitate hearing from your employees, you’re not going to make the best leader. If you believe you work for your employees, your patients, and your doctors. It is my belief that you will be successful”

Cuffe’s Personal Advice to LHC Members  

 “Read more – seek out diverse news vehicles. Today’s world gives you news feeds that are catered to what you’re looking for. I intentionally vary the news feeds that I read to get a more balanced view of the world.” 

“Life gets busier and more chaotic every year, there’s no window when you reach a nice plateau to do the Paris trip that you’ve put off. Life goes by fast and I would’ve seized more while I was younger, and I’ve already seized a lot. There’s so much more to do, push yourself harder.”

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