Almost four years into her journey as president and CEO, Roxanna Gapstur is aligning her team of 20,000 around a clear vision to make WellSpan “A Trusted Partner. Reimagining Healthcare. Inspiring Health.” Under her leadership, WellSpan has evolved from a network of entities into a system with a full continuum of care. Gapstur envisions a comprehensive health ecosystem – not bound by geography – with innovations and access points that deliver a seamless, personalized patient experience.
How do you think about strategic partnerships as you work to create a comprehensive health ecosystem?
RG: WellSpan is intentionally developing innovative partnerships to transform healthcare while advancing equitable care for all.
Through our collaboration with Rite Aid’s retail pharmacy network, we’re improving access to care, closing care gaps and improving medication adherence in our most vulnerable and rural populations.
With General Catalyst, a venture capital firm with a unique mission and values aligned with ours, we’re creating a multi-year virtual health roadmap to guide our co-development of new healthcare products, services or technologies – leveraging WellSpan as a virtual innovation sandbox to create a more personalized cohesive experience.
And we have a collaborative relationship with the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, which improves health outcomes for cancer patients in our community through access to Hopkins second opinions, specialized tumor conferences and clinical research trials. This relationship also strengthens our cancer research and clinical capabilities including genomics, clinical protocols and quality review.
These partnerships accelerate innovation, bring high-quality services to local communities, and enhance the entire health ecosystem as we advance our virtual health transformation.
How has WellSpan addressed the ever-present need for health equity?
RG: WellSpan aims to be a catalyst for community health, helping to ensure affordable services are accessible to all. The teams have organized their approach using the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Health Equity Framework.
As the pandemic illuminated health disparities, WellSpan teams collaborated with local partners to provide free COVID-19 testing and vaccinations for at-risk community members. As COVID-19 infections ramped up, we noticed serious inequities in diagnosis and vaccination rates for non-English speaking populations and Black communities. In response, we deployed a dozen different strategies – from online translation and vaccine-hesitancy listening sessions to collaborations with bodegas and Black churches in the region.
Despite a national trend of delayed screening and preventive care, WellSpan has seen consistent improvement in colorectal and breast cancer screening. A number of factors contributed, including direct scheduling of mammograms in primary care offices, moving to single-vial fecal immunochemical testing for colon cancer, and aligning the system quality goal with our primary care compensation plan. Our work on health equity earned WellSpan an AHA Quest for Quality Prize Honoree recognition.
How have you incorporated diversity, equity and inclusion into the WellSpan culture?
RG: Providing exceptional care for all begins with an organization that welcomes and respects individuals’ differences – within our workforce, and in the community where health inequities are a persistent challenge. Diversity becomes a true competitive advantage when the organization’s culture makes all individuals feel like they belong and provides equitable opportunities, regardless of race or gender.
We need more diversity in healthcare leadership, so I’m intentional about mentoring women and diverse leaders and increasing their representation in senior leadership at WellSpan. To ensure we are creating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture, we have sought outside expertise, established an inclusion champions program and retooled our hiring processes.
Our DEI Steering Committee, a highly diverse group of leaders, providers and professionals from across the organization, guides the ongoing development of WellSpan's DEI goals and progress.
What does the future of the consumer healthcare experience look like – and what plans are you developing to meet that future?
RG: In some ways, the future is here: ubiquitous listening, the collection and analysis of live data streams from devices and wearables, competition from significant new players, and technologies that create a faster, more personal experience throughout an individual’s health and wellness journey.
The complexity of healthcare demands that we continually innovate and evolve our workforce, workplace, technology, tools and partnerships to reimagine healthcare and inspire health. I’m especially excited about WellSpan’s groundbreaking detection and treatment programs using artificial intelligence. One such AI solution, powered by Aidoc, expedites review of imaging scans for our radiologists, capturing abnormalities that the human eye may miss and flagging them for quick review. With one of the largest emergency rooms in the region, WellSpan York Hospital performs 580,000 scans annually, and this AI solution allows us to expedite review of these high volumes. We are expanding our use of AI in several business and clinical areas in the coming year.