Through almost 30 years of service, Alan Stoll has been instrumental in the rise of the Fallon Foundation.
When Stoll became administrator of Fallon Clinic in 1970, the small medical group had only 15 physicians in one Worcester, Mass., office.
Today, the Fallon Foundation operates Fallon Clinic, which has almost 300 physicians in more than 30 locations, and Fallon Community Health Plan, a managed-care plan with 193,600 enrollees.
The foundation once included Worcester-based Saint Vincent Healthcare System, which merged with Fallon Clinic in 1990 but was later sold to Nashville-based OrNda HealthCorp in 1996. As part of that deal, OrNda-now part of Tenet Healthcare Corp.-agreed to build a replacement hospital to be called Medical City.
The $200 million facility will consist of a hospital and clinic offices. Ground was broken recently for the hospital on 22 acres of land in downtown Worcester. It is scheduled for completion in early 2000. Although Stoll recently left Fallon to pursue other goals, he has left a legacy.
For his landmark achievements, Stoll, 51, has been named this year's Harry J. Harwick Award recipient. The award honors the lifetime achievement of an individual who has made outstanding contributions in healthcare delivery, administration and education with particular attention to medical group practice.
The honor will be bestowed on Stoll at the annual luncheon of the American College of Medical Practice Executives, the professional development arm of the Medical Group Management Association. The event, at noon on Tuesday, Oct. 6, is part of MGMA's annual conference.
The Harry J. Harwick Award is considered one of the highest honors in the field of medical practice management, says Andrea Rossiter, senior vice president for the ACMPE.
"Alan was at the cutting edge of healthcare, always doing the extraordinary, at the same time having the time to be sensitive to the development of his organization," says Christine Micklitsch, director of physician education and services with the Fallon health plan. "He's always able to acknowledge people. He was able to grow a really strong management staff that allowed him to go out there and do even more."
Stoll began his long involvement with Fallon after graduating from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., where he received his bachelor's degree in English in 1968 and his master's degree in public administration at its Sloan Institute of Hospital Administration in 1970.
He became coordinator of a planning project sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts to develop a closer working relationship between Fallon Clinic and Saint Vincent Hospital. Soon, the physicians asked Stoll to be their administrator. Just 23, Stoll was younger than many of the physicians he was managing.
During Stoll's student years, his visionary abilities came to the fore.
"He was always very future-oriented, had a visionary mind," says Roger Battistella, professor of health policy and management for the Sloan program at Cornell. "He went into group management when most graduates of top health management schools were drawn to conventional hospital positions."
For the past 10 years, Stoll has returned to Cornell to guest lecture in his mentor's managed-care class.
Another longtime colleague and friend agrees with Battistella's assessment. "Alan is able to see around corners, not just down the road," says John Duggan, a pediatrician who previously served as chief executive officer of both Fallon Clinic and the Fallon health plan.
Stoll also enjoys variety in life and in his work.
"I did undergraduate work in liberal arts because I tried to learn a lot of different areas," Stoll says. "One of the great things about group-practice administration is I could be involved in a lot of areas such as healthcare finance, personnel administration, facilities planning and design. I really like to be involved in building and participating in projects to build something new. I'm fortunate that Fallon gave me the opportunity to do that."
As he built Fallon from a small group practice to an integrated healthcare network, Stoll moved up the corporate ladder and ended his career there last year as executive vice president of Fallon Foundation and vice president of administration at Fallon Clinic.
In 1990, Stoll received both the American College of Medical Group Administrators Management Achievement Award and the American Group Practice Association's Administrator Recognition Award.
Stoll, who served as president of the Massachusetts MGMA chapter in 1976 and 1977 and has sat on its national board, believed he had a duty to help other medical practices thrive as well.
"It was a matter of survival in those days, especially in Massachusetts," Stoll says. "Group practices weren't that well known. Some started and went out of business. I tried to get people to help and be life preservers for each other. We focused on creative educational programs, looking at issues such as prepaid healthcare and computer systems."
Stoll made an impact in and out of healthcare and was involved in the founding of a rehabilitation hospital, a commercial bank and a day school.
Although a huge chapter in Stoll's life has ended with his departure from Fallon, another is just beginning.
A number of consulting companies tried to woo Stoll after he left Fallon, but Stoll decided he didn't like the constant travel of a consultant's life. So instead he set up a company consulting for local healthcare organizations in Worcester, where he and his wife, Nina, grew up together and raised two children-Ira, 25, and Elizabeth, 23.
In fact, to illustrate Stoll's loyalty to his home, he named his consulting company TWM and Affiliates, which stands for "The Worcester Maven."
Stoll is also working as president and CEO of a healthcare start-up company called UniQual Detox Network, which treats heroin and opiate addictions using anesthesia-assisted detoxification.
Stoll has a lighthearted philosophy of life and always tries to let his humor shine through, even when asked his career aspirations.
"I hope to be the first administrator to walk on the moon," he says.
He hopes future healthcare administrators will have as much fun as he had on the job.
"What I tried to do, particularly with students, is try to convey the importance of having a good time," Stoll says. "When you talk about careers and why I stayed (at Fallon), it's because I had a great time. I had a lot of fun with the people that I worked with. We had a blast. Healthcare is becoming a lot less fun. We've got to go back to having a good time."