Change, says Mark Baumel, M.D., requires devoting trust and resources to new projects, and that trust must be earned.
Baumel, 38, is bringing change to the seven-hospital Mercy Health System as its chief medical officer and senior vice president of medical management. It is a job created for Baumel.
"What's really different about (the) model is that it goes beyond just the bridging and more into strategy and implementation," he says. "It's not just a situation where you take a doctor and give him a role model and that makes him good at this new position. Rather, it takes someone who comes to the table with a certain personality and analytic perspective."
"It's one day at a time," says Baumel. "I'm keenly aware of that, and if I miss the mark on some program I represent, that's going to hurt my ability to move forward elsewhere."
The change he refers to is the recent creation of his position, which requires him to preside over an unusual marriage between the medical and financial divisions of a complex system.
"A leap of faith may need to be made by the senior management team, and it certainly helps if you have a good track record."
Baumel's disposition and professional experience have made it significantly easier for his superiors to take that leap.
A graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Baumel is board certified in internal medicine, pulmonology and sleep medicine. He completed his internal medicine residency and a fellowship in pulmonology and critical medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he also earned his master's degree in 1996 from the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics.
After a two-year stint as director of clinical effectiveness for the seven-hospital MedStar Health System in Baltimore, where he spearheaded systemwide clinical improvement efforts, including pathways, guidelines, disease management programs and care delivery models, Baumel became an independent consultant.
MedStar was his first big client, for whom he expanded his services to include medical management and medical information systems development. Other clients were large provider groups, hospital-based systems and Medicare peer-review organizations.
Baumel credits UPenn, the "hotbed for issues of the business of medicine and health economics," for prodding his broad career interests. But Baumel's appreciation for the tenacity required to fuse clinical and financial management comes from within.
"You need to live in world of uncertainty, which is different from what physicians are used to," he says. "In the business world, you're sometimes operating on much fuzzier notions, and at times you have to go with your gut instincts and be willing to be a risk-taker."
Teamwork plays a central role in Baumel's personal life. His says his wife, a practicing gastroenterologist, works as hard as he does to balance the rearing of their two children, ages 5 and 3, with their efforts to improve the country's health system. "We survive by pitching in," he says.