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Health care groups team up to create executive leadership academy

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Larry Downs, CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey.
Larry Downs, CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey. - ()

Three health care organizations have come together in hopes of changing the way future leaders in the industry manage medical practice, hospital operations and insurance.

The Medical Society of New Jersey, New Jersey Hospital Association and New Jersey Association of Health Plans announced a New Jersey Healthcare Executive Leadership Academy in partnership with Seton Hall University last week.

Larry Downs, CEO of MSNJ, said the idea began when his organization was in the planning stages of a physician leadership academy. The goal was to build skills and work with other sectors within the health care system.

That led to the discussions with NJHA and NJAHP and the growth of the idea into an all-inclusive academy.

The program director at MSNJ, Marlene Kalayilparampil, said it is kind of like a think tank.

Seton Hall is in charge of the curriculum and organizing guest speakers — experts within the state — to focus on certain issues.

Ten executives in each sector, nominated by the respective organizations, will result in a total of 30 participants for the program.

The first program will begin in February and last until June, and includes a total of 40 hours. It will focus on end-of-life care, an area where New Jersey consistently ranks among the lowest in the country, Downs said.

Betsy Ryan, CEO and president of the New Jersey Hospital Association.
Betsy Ryan, CEO and president of the New Jersey Hospital Association. - ()

The meeting of minds within the three organizations comes at a time when some of the most prominent health care bills are being battled over in Trenton. And the three participating organizations aren’t always on the same side in the fight.

“We all recognize that,” Downs said. “We are completely understanding of each other’s interests and issues. We may continue to disagree on certain ways to solve problems in the state; however, as executive leaders of these associations, I think there are lots of things we can do together. We will start here and try to build a leadership cadre that can problem-solve together. We are hoping people engaged in each cohort can form lasting relationships and bonds to pick up the phone and call each other to solve problems.”

Betsy Ryan, CEO and president of NJHA, said that, despite the differing interests, the goals of each association in the future of health care are aligned.

“I think professionals can work together on issues and disagree on other issues. I and Larry (Downs) and Ward (Sanders, president of NJAHP) consider ourselves professionals,” Ryan said. “We can differ voraciously on out-of-network, but that doesn’t mean that same evening we can’t have a conversation about these issues.”

The goal is to tap the next-in-line of the various practices and sectors in the state.

Ward Sanders, president of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans.
Ward Sanders, president of the New Jersey Association of Health Plans.

“People who aren’t necessarily power brokers right now, but the next level down to be health care leaders in the next 10 years,” Ryan said.

The goal, ultimately, is to break down barriers that naturally exist within the industries, Ryan said. Having a personal relationship with someone in a different field makes it easier to talk out problems, whether it be the traditional sparring between provider and insurer, or the shifting dynamic between doctors and hospitals.

The academy was started with about $150,000 in seed money from the Fannie Rippel Foundation.

All three organizations anticipate it will become an annual, if not biannual, program.

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