Michele Molden: I was just delighted to be named one of the Top 25 Women in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare, and the interesting thing was, of course, that I knew that I had been selected a couple of weeks—several weeks—before the magazine came out. And the real surprise to me was when I saw the other 24 women who had also been selected. I was honored. Very honored to be included in that group of women because it's interesting that there's such diversity among the women that were selected—all different parts of the healthcare sector, all different backgrounds, and so I could not have been more honored and humbled to be selected.
Transcript: Michele Molden, president and CEO, Piedmont Heart Institute in Atlanta
Michele Molden: I think the most important issue facing the healthcare industry today is the fact that it's unaligned and unintegrated. What I mean is you have hospitals going in one direction, physicians going in another direction, the financing arm for healthcare—whether that be the private payer sector or Medicare—going in a completely different direction as well. And at least from my view of the world, the most critical part of that is the fact that hospitals and physicians very often are very much at odds with each other, unless they're in an integrated system, and, to me, that is a tremendous barrier to improving quality of care, certainly to improving efficiency of care. And I think the biggest challenge is there's not any—there doesn't seem to be any alignment among all of the various stakeholders as to a) how to improve it and b) how to change what we're doing that has gotten us into the situation that we are today.
Michele Molden: The thing that I see in the healthcare reform debate today that I think is different and positive: I feel that the administration is really trying to listen to stakeholders, and I'm hopeful that we don't rush to a solution too quickly, that we do let the debate continue and do let all the voices be heard. I think there's a desire to do that, but in politics often, you know, once a train gets rolling, it's very hard to stop it. And so I'm fearful that the special interest groups will splinter off and try to get to a solution before we've really had the conversation. But the fact that we've never even decided as a nation whether healthcare is a right or a privilege is at the heart of some of the challenges. And I think if we allow the debate to evolve and allow the conversation to be well thought through, then I'm hopeful that we'll get to a solution that might actually make more sense than what we've got today.
Michele Molden: My organization, the Piedmont Heart Institute, is actually a partnership between a four-hospital system and, today, 67 cardiologists soon to be added to that, or cardiovascular surgeons. And what I've learned through the last couple of years putting this organization together is the incredible power of alignment. And we have physicians today that are marching in lockstep with our hospital system. We've been able, and we haven't even been fully formed for a full year, working on it for a couple, but just in the last year we've seen significant improvements in mortality, improvements in efficiency, some things that we couldn't have done before because we wouldn't have had the support and the participation by the physicians in our organization. And we're a physician-managed, physician-governed entity. And I have been amazed at the power of what can happen when you really put physicians in control of the clinical areas that their patients experience. When you think about it, it makes absolute sense that they would be the best people to help improve the quality and improve the efficiency because they work there every day. But often times either a) we don't ask them or b) because their financial incentives are so unaligned from hospitals, they don't have the time or the inclination to participate. But, just over the last year, I have seen some outcomes that tell me the power of what we can do together if we really are together in a partnership. So that's what we're doing.
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