University of Pennsylvania Health System has tapped Ralph Muller, former president and CEO of the University of Chicago Hospitals and Health System, to succeed Robert Martin.
Muller began work at UPHS in a transitional capacity on May 1 and officially takes over on July 1. The appointment came not a moment too soon if he is going to take advantage of Penn's free tuition plan: His daughter, Elisabeth, is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
"She's excited about having her mom and dad and dog nearby-probably most excited about the dog," Muller says. "We do expect to see more of her."
Muller, 57, arrives at a formative time for UPHS, which underwent a dramatic turnaround toward profitability under Martin's five-year reign. Martin, 54, earlier this year announced plans to leave the system on June 30, saying it was time to seek a new challenge after stabilizing the management team and stemming losses.
As CEO, Muller will be responsible for the operational effectiveness and financial health of the four-hospital system, which generates $1.7 billion in revenue annually.
His career in academic medicine began in 1985 when he was named vice president of the University of Chicago Hospitals and deputy dean of biological sciences. In 1986, after the creation of a new corporate organization for health services operations, Muller was named president and CEO of the revamped system, holding the position for 15 years.
But that was a different institution at a different time, Muller says. Penn's board of trustees is solidly committed to a health system that is fully integrated with the university, although separating into two organizations was briefly considered several years ago. Muller says the first thing on his agenda is to implement the system's five-year plan. "I think it's in a strong position now to combine its programmatic strength with its renewed financial strength."
Muller left Chicago in 2001 to lead a comparative study of U.S. and British healthcare systems for the King's Fund, a London-based healthcare foundation. Since 2002, he has been a director of Stockamp & Associates, a national firm that specializes in helping not-for-profit health institutions improve their revenues and patient-care programs. Muller was named to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission in 2001. From 1999 to 2000, he served as chairman of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington.