After a career spent pushing large, sometimes change-resistant organizations, Patrick Hays is running with smaller groups whose existence is based on pushing ahead.
His achievements on both fronts have earned him the 2003 Gold Medal Award, the top honor from the American College of Healthcare Executives. "I've been fortunate to have a reasonably successful career, but there is no question that this is the pinnacle of it," says Hays, 60. "To be selected by my colleagues is such an overwhelming honor."
Before his current career as a consultant, Hays served from 1995 to 2000 as president and chief executive officer of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, the national coordinating body for the nation's 42 independent Blues plans. Hays also was founding president and CEO of Sutter Health, Sacramento, Calif., serving in that post from 1980 to 1995.
Among Hays' consulting clients are HealthCom Partners, Mount Prospect, Ill., which "humanizes hospital bills" by translating "gobbledygook" itemizations into plain English; and Celadon Health, Atlanta, which has developed a database of clinical best practices that managed-care companies are using to base physicians' compensation on clinical effectiveness-rather than discounts from charges.
"If there's a theme to what I'm about these days, it's educationally focused, and focused on small-scale organizations that are working to make change," says Hays, also a professor at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University, Tempe. "I thought a small-scale activity might be a way to offer my bruises and scars to young people who were doing something that might have a favorable impact."
Hays achieved some of those scars during his years at the Blues, which before his arrival had experienced 15 years of sliding market share. "The Blues were very slow to embrace the principles of managed care," he says. "We began to put some things into place that helped the plans get back into the marketplace."