As chief financial officer of Parkview Health System in Fort Wayne, Ind., Roger Deshaies is considered a visionary and strategic mastermind by his colleagues.
His achievements and reputation won Deshaies, 48, this year's Cain Brothers Award, which honors a finance executive in healthcare.
"Roger integrates balance sheet considerations with intangibles like strategy," says Frank Byrne, M.D., president of Parkview Memorial Hospital, the system's flagship. "I count it to be one of my greatest assets that as I evaluate programs, I can sit down with Roger and brainstorm about them."
Since Deshaies took the CFO's job at 493-bed Parkview Memorial in January 1990, the now 660-bed, three-hospital system has racked up total profits of $200 million, with average annual net income of $26 million. For the year ended Dec. 31, 1997, Parkview Health posted net income of $31.8 million on revenues of $305.9 million.
Parkview has almost $275 million in total liquidity and $150 million in outstanding debt. Deshaies contributed to the system's growth in cash and investments of $125 million.
During his eight years on the job, the hospital launched its own managed-care organization, built a new multimillion-dollar medical office mall, acquired two rural hospitals and created a parent organization to manage the growing integrated system.
As recipient of the Cain Brothers Award, Deshaies will attend Harvard Business School's Focused Financial Management Series, in which finance executives from a broad spectrum of industries worldwide spend an intensive two weeks in May analyzing numerous finance-related case studies.
Cain Brothers is a New York-based investment banking and capital investment firm.
In addition to improving the hospital system's financial profile, Deshaies has contributed to its operations expansion.
One of his earliest accomplishments at Parkview was the launch of a PPO called Signature Care. In 1990 Deshaies formed a physician-led managed-care task force to explore the possibility of organizing a hospital-affiliated health plan. The PPO now has 70,000 enrollees.
In 1992 the hospital's dominant orthopedic group decided to move 1,200 outpatient procedures from the hospital to a new office building. To keep those procedures under the hospital's control, Deshaies and another hospital executive led a committee of physician members to discuss the feasibility of pooling physician groups in a new hospital-affiliated medical office building.
Despite struggling to compromise on everything from the project's basic vision to details like total cost, Carew Medical Park, a $30 million, 200,000-square-foot medical mall, opened for business in 1995.
"I can't tell you every day was a wonderful day where we held hands across the table and sang the same tune," Deshaies said. "We struggled through the entire project."
The hospital was able to include purchase agreement limitations on the establishment of competing services within the building. The condominiumlike structure now accommodates 11 specialty groups.
Byrne says the deal shows another of Deshaies' strengths: his ability to negotiate and understand other people's points of view.
"Roger possesses the unique ability to look at things not only from his perspective but from the perspective of others and arrive at solutions that support the needs and vision of the people he's working with," Byrne says.
Deshaies led efforts to add two rural hospitals to Parkview's network. Huntington (Ind.) Memorial Hospital, with 37 beds, was acquired in January 1996, and 130-bed Whitley Memorial Hospital in Columbia City, Ind., was acquired in January 1997. Since then, the three hospitals have consolidated a number of services and resources.
Parkview Health was founded in 1996 as a vehicle to manage the growing number of facilities in the provider network.
"(Deshaies) was one of the leaders as we developed from a hospital into a health system," says Lou Pach, a member of Parkview Health's board of directors. "His vision and experience helped us significantly through that process."
But Deshaies says his biggest accomplishment-and the secret to his success-was assembling a winning team of finance managers.
"The best thing I could do for Parkview is provide them with financial expertise they need to be successful," Deshaies says. "I can't do that alone. I have to bring and develop the right people to make that happen. I allow them to make decisions and allow them to make mistakes."
Members of his financial team agree that Deshaies gives them plenty of elbow room to work.
"He has no hesitation in having his people design and present information for the board members," says Karen Roberts, vice president for budgeting and financial analysis. "He is very open to give-and-take and welcomes open discussion of issues. He gives challenging assignments but supports the solutions that his people come up with."
Looking back, Deshaies didn't originally pursue a career in healthcare administration or finance. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with bachelor's and master's degrees in political science in 1971 and 1972. Interested in public administration, he accepted a position at Yale Medical School in New Haven, Conn., to head the administration of its lung research center, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. The position included some hospital responsibilities in respiratory departments. At the time, he was also exposed to the development of the Medicaid payment program, which helped pique his interest in healthcare finance.
After going back to the University of Connecticut part time, in 1977 he earned his master's in business administration with a concentration in healthcare finance. In September 1978 he became a grants management officer for the Washington-based NIH Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
From 1982 until taking the post at Parkview, Deshaies held CFO positions at a number of institutions-Louisiana State University Medical Center in Shreveport, Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa.
Deshaies says his future strategy for Parkview is continued emphasis on consolidation.
And he's open to collaboration as well. Deshaies decided to create a joint laundry service with two of the system's main competitors because it would result in significant savings.
He's constantly in negotiations for projects ranging from joint ventures to acquisitions, working to make "the Parkview family of hospitals the most attractive grouping of hospitals for our region," he says.