Embracing a Retail Medicine Strategy to Ensure Success with Michael Boblitz, Vice President, Planning & Business Development at Gwinnett Health System

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Embracing a Retail Medicine Strategy to Ensure Success with Mike Boblitz, Vice President, Planning & Business Development at Gwinnett Health System

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there's one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is low. That's why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I've been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at outcomesrocket.health/podcast. Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That's outcomesrocket.health/podcast.

Welcome back to the outcomes rocket podcast for we chat with today's most successful and inspiring healthcare leaders. Today I have a special treat for you today. His name is Mike Boblitz. He's a vice president of planning and business development at Gwinnett health system. He's experienced in strategy marketing and business development. He's got a demonstrated expertise in the healthcare and hospital system industry with a strong foundation leveraging strategy and market analytics to enable strategic growth and competitive environments. He's done a lot for the health care system where he currently works as well as previous healthcare systems that he's contributed to. He's a unique leader with a diverse experience in leading academic as well as community health systems. And he spans many different types of markets health care management. He's done includes real estate construction services and facilities and he's also served as an adjunct professor at James Madison University for nine years. Such a pleasure to have you on the podcast Mike. And if you have any any details that maybe I left out would love to have the listeners have welcome.

Thank you saw. No I think that was a great introduction as you can tell I just just enjoy planning and strategy so much. I remember going way back to my first planning job planning analyst position at a place called Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville Virginia. Probably the second week on the job I was sitting around the table. Exactly. Even the CEO was talking about how that hospital had become landmarked. It was a 100 year old hospital and they continue to be declined by local zoning to expand in the city. And the time has come to really build a business case to build a new hospital to relocate and not something about that. I was hooked. Way back as a young recent college grad I said planning is what I'm about. I'm all I just want to have my career devoted to planning and strategy.

That's awesome. What a great story. Sounds like they threw you right into it from the beginning.

Did it. I was fortunate. Know that it had working at smaller it was a smaller 176 bed hospital that very well-managed. I've found that we work in smaller smaller organizations. You get to get broader exposure and for someone right out of college that was just what I needed to get started.

That's amazing. So you could have done a lot of different things Mike but you decided to get into health care. Why did you decide that?

That's a great question. So my middle name is Crile C R I L E and my office was got a picture of what I'm told is the last remaining picture of a gentleman named Dr. George Washington Crile who is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic.

No kidding.

That's right. You didn't leave. We've had a long. Obviously most of my family have worked in health. My dad actually still working as the chief administrative officer for orthopedics and sports medicine University of Virginia. My mom is the head nurse for the cancer center at UVA so we just always had a family focused around healthcare and I'm just fortunate to also be able to work in this space.

What a cool story. Mike so it's in it's in your roots. It's a tradition that you've honored and you've just continued with.

Correct. And you know I thought about going into sports medicine outer space as the young kid. A lot of people are heroes and people they look up to. And for me it wasn't necessarily athletes or entertainers. There is a Dr. Frank McHugh and Doc McHugh was the founder really the grandfather of a sportsman's medicine and he really wrote the book and before of managers it was dark. So growing up I had a chance to follow him around in the football field and eventually start working in the training room in high school and taping vehicles of athletes enjoying physical therapy treatments on athletes and kind of started thinking about going into a medical career and I'll never forget it it was probably my first year of college where your doctor said you know if you're going to make it and you really think about sports medicine and want to think about being a doctor you're going to be to start watching me in surgery and I'll never forget I went and watched him doing an ACL repair and all I can remember is just all of a sudden it getting very fuzzy and that's you know down the hallway and a nurse or something or you know quickly that the medical provider saw I really wasn't for me but I still loved it and my dad made a great career being an administrator. So I switched that James Madison University from kind of a medical path to a health care administrator path and just haven't looked back since. It's been a great experience for me.

Wow. Wow. So you had that episode but you found a way to stay with it. And Michael you had such an amazing career. There's a lot of health care leaders out there that are really just working to find the best way. There's a lot of change in health care right now and so in your thoughts what's a hot topic that needs to be on their mind and how are you guys addressing it there over at Gwinnett?

You know I think the hot topic right now is really changing your focus from historically healthcare has been really delivered from a provider's lens. And you know and you read it all the time it's all over the news that it really has become a consumer game and health care at least back when I was in grad school was what they call price and elastic. You can raise prices and demand is still there and now consumers and there's a lot of data out. A recent study said that as many as 40 percent of probably mature consumers are under high deductible plans. So it's become this retail medicine agenda really fast. So I've really worked hard at my organization and actually prior organizations to change that mindset from a provider lens to a consumer lens and really understanding the types of consumer segments that are in your market and changing up the delivery the way that they want it and try to build loyalty that way. And I think that's really something that is extremely important for healthcare systems around the country to really embrace and pay attention to.

Yeah Mike that's such a great call. You know and there definitely is that big shift you alluded to the rising costs of of those deductible plans that is forcing health consumers to really be more mindful about the dollars that they spend. Can you walk us through some examples of what you all are doing at Gwinnett to help address this market and not from a provider lens but from a consumer lens?

Yeah. Happy to give you some examples. So when I first got down to Gwinnett about four years ago one of my first orders of business was to develop a new strategic plan to carry the organization into the future and so I started saying step back literally understand not just the population but the consumers in this market. There's a lot of data out there Experian for example Truven has different segments in the top segment and our market is a group that I found called kids in quarter sacks and they have two really interesting characteristics that popped out right away. They really if you'll come this reach on medicine thinking that we've been embracing here and that the first is there are about 52 times more likely than an average U.S. household to want to have urgent care. The second there are about 50 times more likely than an average U.S. household one to have access to providers or mines more mine etc. So I formed a urgent care company outside the hospital because hospital pricing has been the barrier as you think about retail medicine. And we formed a joint venture called Choice One urgent care at the national partner and that just exploded right out the gate. So that when we first try to understand how consumers wanted health care in this case the top consumer wanted urgent care and by default, it's done very well. And then this past year we rolled out an online scheduling and same things just exploded. We're getting a lot of results out of that including in our market there have been a lot of population that just don't have primary care doctors and our markets growing two and a half times us average people are coming in trying to use iPad and iPhone to figure out where can I find a doctor. And we're standing out in that game because it's easy to help your dividers. Nationwide there are challenges they don't answer the phone well and consumers just want direct access. So those are some examples where we're really embracing this whole consumer mindset and finding some success.

Those are some wonderful examples Mike and one of the things that I feel like really differentiates you as a leader in this space is the ability to not only think about the ideas but execute them. You know execution is such a talent in our space it's hard to make it happen. What would you say is one of the contributing factors that has helped you and your team be able to execute on these ideas?

Oh yeah I've learned to live in fortunate to have worked with some really good organizations in the healthcare space. And so the key to me is really before you even get started about what should we do urgent care you know should we build expand product lines et cetera take a step back as I did when I got here and really engage your management team on a very thoughtful strategy and strategic plan and really get a senses to what that looks like in this case including urgent care and really get that bind up front. So then the execution becomes very easy.

So you get strategic alignment and then from there the execution just follows.

Correct. And you know the key is with any strategy this first step is really having a very thorough in what I call environmental scan and that's where the kids and Colla sites came up and really educate the management team as to what these fund is are and bring forward ideas that should be considered as far as strategy and get support for that and that to me has been my success and when others think of do it different ways. But to me that's that's the right path.

I think you just do such a great job of this Mike and listeners do as Mike is suggesting here. You know do a thorough environmental scan, understand what you're getting yourself into and align your leadership team to your vision and then execution just becomes secondary. So Mike there's no doubt you've had a lot of success. You guys have implemented some really great programs. Give us an example of the other side of the coin maybe maybe a program that didn't work and a setback. What did you learn from that and take us to that story?

Sure. I'm trying to think of a good example of a program I would say so related to the retail medicine agenda. My take is and I'm really working hard to leverage our success and urgent care where you know healthcare a lot of these outpatient services are now commodities right who are shopping, urgent care is a great example but also not forget about imaging and you've seen in the news nationwide payers are starting to really steer their beneficiaries away from hospital pricing to do commodity pricing right, and freestanding services. And what are those. I tried to push actually right after urgent care and the trend just wasn't right because the challenges on the financial front was forming a similar company around medical imaging and we just have not yet been able to launch that because of the challenge of transitioning from hospital pricing today to commodity pricing tomorrow and you know how do you make up enough volume on the demand side to last that price differential. Right. And so I'm still working on that agenda. I think that that hopefully we've got to get there because you're seeing all the news that I'm seeing that payers are over that. And if you don't start to integrate that it'd be that outside the hospital over time is just you know I don't see how hospitals can stay in that game. That's one example Takamine I can think of. I wouldn't say it's Baille just the time wasn't quite right but after my effort there since we're seeing now all these payers coming out and aggressively trying to re-steer patients away from hospitals maybe hopefully this next year we'll get another chance to reintroduce that idea.

Yeah that's fascinating. Thanks for sharing that. And you know I mean for example here in Chicago, Mike, I'm seeing these these MRI places pop up like and they're literally right next to the subway like the subway sandwich place or like next to the Red Robin and Mawle strips. So I don't know. I think your timing may be maybe on-point right now.

Absolutely. I think you know consumers want you know since they were seeing healthcare the way that the retail and how they shop right and you know our urgent care centers as an example we located in strip centers, we relocate and retail malls where you might have other services to shop in. And I think that's what consumers want. I think imaging is not on the equation as well as other commodities like physical therapy and web services.

Yeah it's funny that you mentioned physical therapy because just a couple of days ago I had a group of PT folks that are putting together think of Uber meets physical therapy. They're pairing physical therapists with patients through a mobile app. Wow. Yeah and they seem to be having some pretty good traction. So yeah I mean you're definitely your mind is in the right place here. And I think we are seeing this shift. I think it's so key that we get focused hyper focused on this folks. Take a note from Mike here. They're definitely skating to where the puck is going over there at Gwinnett. Now Mike tell us the other side. Give us an example of how I mean so the retail side of medicine has worked for you guys with the urgent care is there any other success story that maybe you want to share with us?

Yeah I'd say there's many memories back going back to Martha Jefferson Hospital way back when I had the chance to build a case to expand our network in my first primary care practice and got to take it from idea to execution and that was a lot of fun and then going forward. When I worked in a system that Mamun called up or just be help. I then kind of got a chance to build my first 40,000 square foot outpatient care center. And that's Mayor Simar more bigger projects and so every organization I've had proud movement I would say really at a high level what I really enjoyed the most current organization included is coming in and really trying to develop this culture of planning, really bringing your management team together so I have a team called Planning Council where I've got HR, I,T finance, marketing, operations, everybody together and leadership roles in those areas and I really take time to engage them about, hey forget about all the fires and all the challenges we're dealing with today and operations it's really dedicate time each month to focus on strategy and really how we need to think about the future. And then that really it's going back to what I mentioned earlier about the execution side get that by and it didn't have all the stakeholders with you so to have strength in numbers when it comes to how to implement and grow your organization.

That's pretty awesome that your approach is so thoughtful and with change in health care it's happening. There's no doubt that it is it's a wave and you're riding that wave MIke, like a lot of people are getting crushed by it but you're riding it.

Well thank you.

Absolutely. So tell us about an exciting project or focus that you're working on today?

You know I think right now our current strategic plan that I had was my first order of business when I moved to Georgia expires June 30th. And so for the past six months I've been working on what I call Vision 2025 that really sets a new course and helps us continue to take advantage of some of the things we've been already working on as well as focus on what's next. And that's been a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time with physician leadership meetings a lot of time with our board, a lot of time with our management team and you know that will start to take effect officially July 1 which is our fiscal year. So I think that I've enjoyed that. And in that it talks about about continue to fuel this retail medicine agenda as well as you know there's in our market still traditional organic growth and opportunities where focusing hard on how we you know continue to grow our service lines and we have three areas of focus and Vision 2025 one is developing and evolving this consumer-oriented network with ambulatory services front and center but also one one area of focus is expanding our product lines across the full continuum and they are trying to focus on now is how do we change our mindset from historically and acute encounter based delivery model to one that really focuses just as much on prevention and like for example we have historically seen as many as 70 patients in our beds at a given time with either acute or chronic heart failure. It's time to think about how do we start to better manage those patients outpatient and focus on cardiovascular disease centers of care and so these are some of the fun things that we're starting to kind of work on next that I think are the right models for delivery system in the future. As for us your better full. And so how do we better manage patients that could be prevented from an inpatient admission and how we'd better manage them without patient resources and really preserve our precious capacity for the most sick and complex patients.

I think that's really great that health and wellness approach and folks if you're listening to this and if you're in Georgia you probably already like all about. I got to get over to to Gwinnett if I need any services. They're definitely skating to where the puck is going and obviously Mike here is a testament to that. And so Mike for your efforts and everything that you've done there I mean it's definitely gone a long way for the system and the communities that you serve. Let's pretend you and I are building a medical leadership course on what it takes to be successful in health care strategy today the 101 of Mike BioBlitz. And so we got a syllabus here we're going to do it lightning round style. We've got four questions and then maybe you could share with us a favorite book or resource. You ready?

I'm ready.

All right. What's the best way to improve health care outcomes?

So I think there's really two components to this. One is and I mentioned this a minute ago is how do we reengineer our product lines and our services from this acute episodic model to one that really focuses on prevention. Right. And what I didn't mention earlier is another example where we've been successful is we really study neuroscience in back pain and found that we have a large number of back pain conditions hitting our emergency department heading our inpatient facilities. And we study the marketplace and found that there's there's tons of spine surgeons on every corner and they're all really set up to really focus on surgery. At the same time let's face it you and I included surgeries the last thing that we want. Right. And so we focused on how do we differentiate in a super crowded market. We created this concept called The Back Pain Center and basically the Bactrian center basically set up to do everything we can and make surgery last on the agenda. And that's been extremely successful and we also realize nurse in our research that consumers need prompt access right. And that's why they're hitting emergency departments around the country and so we created a 24/7 call center that offers prompt appointments and we also created an online scheduling which as far as I can tell were the only neurosurgery program in the state of Georgia that offers that type of solution where basically we'll see now. And if you need to connect with an appointment in the morning through our call center or if you want to get the advice and just pick your appointment we'll be ready to see. And we set up basically a model where it's met by mid level providers who have very rigid protocols as an extension of the neurosurgeon to receive you, really give you that care plan and figure out a let's try physical therapy maybe you need pain management and then occasionally you might need surgery and that we're going to do all we can to avoid that. So that's kind of one example of when I talk about reengineering product lines that to me that that's the value proposition and are back in center that we launched this past year. Is that an example. You know what we need to do more of.

Now that's fascinating. So as you do these things what would you say the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid is?

The biggest mistakes or pitfalls. I would say is really just not embracing a culture of teamwork and creativity. You know early in my career I found I saw a lot of organizations where they paid so much fear and failure to me Oh I've always said I'd gladly trade you know one failure for five successful projects that you know an improvement to our organization as well as the community we serve. And so I think that's the biggest mistake that some places can make as you've got to really focused hard and create this culture of teamwork in creativity.

For sure. I think that's so valuable. And how do you stay relevant as an organization. Despite all the change I think this is so key for you guys I mean you guys did such a great job but what would you how would you sum it up. How do you stay relevant despite all the change?

You know the key is wrapping this up right now but just having a very disciplined planning process that routinely steps back. Forget about all the stuff happening in the four walls of our institution and monitors how is the marketplace changing around us and really conducting a thorough internal assessment to understand how we are situated in that changing marketplace and what gaps exist that we really need to address in order to stay relevant in order to stay successful and we do that once a year through our planning process and I think that really helps us think about those key changes that are required in order for us to continue to move forward in New York in this very crowded market in a rapidly changing marketplace of healthcare.

Mike what would you say one area of focus that should drive everything in a health organization is?

Similar to our talk entirely today as you know having that culture of planning that includes all stakeholders. You know from operations, finance, marketing, human resources I.T. and bring all those folks together to really to embrace you know how this organization to evolve and grow and including all of those folks in that mindset in those parts and I think that's really something that you know we've done well and allowed us to have really a team approach to strategy and evolution. And I think others really need to focus you know in that regard to make sure that you have that buy-in then you know early on in my career I sometimes have learned the hard way and there's there's one overexertion that I found early in my career that really was siloed and really didn't bring in all the stakeholders and they're not surprised. The plan was not very robust at that particular organization and that's a major challenge. And so again as I mentioned earlier you know I've been very fortunate to work at great systems and really learn what works and what doesn't work and I think that you know this culture of planning is so important for us and for others.

I think that's great. Mike what favorite book or resource would you recommend to the listeners?

Or you know is not really your favorite book or resource other than I just think it's just so wonderful the amount of information now that it's available both digital as well as through books about you know strategy and this changing health care market and so on constantly as a sponge trying to embrace all that information that leaders around the country are sharing and really helping me think OK what are we doing wrong or what are we missing and incorporating that great information as part of our strategy for the future.

Love it Mike. This has been a ton of fun. We've we've covered a lot of things and we've gotten here to the end the time always flies when we have fun. But before we conclude I love if you could just share a closing thought with the listeners and the best place where they could collaborate with you if they wanted to.

The best place to collaborate or connect obviously you know length then we can connect that way and for anyone in Georgia obviously looked me up and let's get together. You know I think a closing thought just to really embrace the changing environment. I think you know a lot of folks who are somewhat uneasy about how fast healthcare is changing and you know how hospital services are moving away into these these retail models. So quick and do get excited about that to really embrace the changing environment and really think outside the box to help your organization, stay competitive and relevant in changing times that we're in, I think this is so important.

Outstanding Mike there's no doubt you guys are skating to where the puck is going. You guys are a forward thinking organization and you are an outstanding leader. My friend. I appreciate you spending time with us today and looking forward to staying in touch with you.

That's all, I appreciate it. You're doing great things. Keep up the great work that you're doing and bringing all these great leaders together to share best practices and ideas and continue to be a great listener to all you're doing and never hesitate to call on I come here to help you guys.

Highly appreciated my friend.

Hey Outcomes Rocket friends, thanks for tuning in to the podcast once again. As a leader in health care, you have big ideas great products, a story to tell, and are looking for ways to improve your reach and scale your business. However there's one tiny problem. Health care is tough to navigate and the typical sales cycle is low. That's why you should consider starting your own podcast as part of your sales and marketing strategy. At the Outcomes Rocket, I've been able to reach thousands of people every single month that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to reach if I had not started my podcast. Having this organic reach enables me to get the feedback necessary to create a podcast that delivers value that you are looking for. And the same thing goes if you start a podcast for what you could learn from your customers. The best thing about podcasting in healthcare is that we are currently at the ground level, meaning that the number of people in healthcare listening to podcasts is small but growing rapidly. I put together a free checklist for you to check out the steps on what it takes to create your own podcast. You could find that at outcomesrocket.health/podcast. Check it out today and find a new way to leverage the sales, marketing and outcomes of your business. That's outcomesrocket.health/podcast.

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Best Way to Contact Michael:

LinkedIn: Michael (C.) Boblitz

Mentioned Link:

Gwinnett Medical Center

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