Growth Through Collaboration | Fahad Tahir Saint Thomas Hospitals | Propel Change
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Growth Through Collaboration | Fahad Tahir Saint Thomas Hospitals

Growth Through Collaboration | Fahad Tahir Saint Thomas Hospitals

Growth Through Collaboration | Fahad Tahir

In today’s video, we’re going to talk about “Growth Through Collaboration” with Fahad Tahir, who’s CEO of Saint Thomas Midtown, and Saint Thomas West.

DONNA GRIGGS: So, Fahad, when you were the ripe age of, what, 33, you became the CEO of two hospitals? That’s probably a little bit unusual. In fact, aren’t you the youngest CEO in the entire Ascension Network?

FAHAD TAHIR: I just might be

DONNA GRIGGS: That’s pretty cool. So, can you tell me a little bit about your journey?

FAHAD TAHIR: Sure. I grew up in Milwaukee. I grew up in India ’til I was nine, and then in Milwaukee, where I have, just, an incredible amount of relatives. And, somewhere around the age of 19, I came across this practice in the east side of Milwaukee, and just joined for the summer, thinking nothing of it. And, one thing led to another, met some incredible physicians and incredible mentors, and 15 years later, here I am. And, I feel just incredibly fortunate–

DONNA GRIGGS: Just that simple. Just, here I am, 15 years later.

FAHAD TAHIR: There are a couple more steps, probably, in between. You know, I started off, just with a variety of roles in the practice. Answering the phones, covering the front desk, and just really enjoyed that summer. And I just didn’t wanna just go back to school. And so they were kind enough to keep me around. And I continued to have experiences with the practice and really started to see that serving people in healthcare can become a purpose and a passion, that I just didn’t know I had. And didn’t have a lot of family history in healthcare, just really came to me through that experience. And just reoriented my life. And so, with great mentors, and got a chance to take on different roles and opportunities over the years, and eventually ran the practice. That practice that I had originally joined, that practice grew over the years, and became part of Ascension, and, really, then, it was incredible being introduced to this powerful social cause, this powerful culture that is 400 years of history that powers Ascension. And so, got a chance to tap into that, see the incredible network of Ascension, physician practices at hospitals, and go through leadership development program, which allowed me to become part of the Ascension Ministry in Washington, DC, and ultimately in Nashville.

DONNA GRIGGS: So, it’s interesting, that the word Saint in Saint Thomas is spelled out. Talk to me a little bit about that.

FAHAD TAHIR: Yeah, you know, that’s something I’m really proud of. So, we had a sister, Sister Irene, about 40 years ago. And she introduced this idea that we’re gonna spell out the word Saint, S-A-I-N-T, rather than just S-T-period. And the idea behind it is, we are thoughtful and disciplined, and intentional, and we go through that extra effort to spell out the word Saint because we hold ourselves to a higher standard. And that’s the culture she wanted to build that became part of the legacy I get to be part of today. And as I take on this role, and I reflect on that incredible history, and the incredibly high standard that Saint Thomas delivers in terms of patient care, but also the culture of seeing the patient as a whole, body, mind, and spirit. I look for ways, and I seek out ways, through our physicians and our staff, to contribute to that culture. To continue to feed that energy of, we’re gonna keep raising the bar, keep being innovative, and setting the highest possible standard for medicine that science knows today.

DONNA GRIGGS: Wow! So, you know, one of the things I know you really, really believe in, from our conversations before is, the whole collaboration effort, and how you guide that effort everywhere in this entire organization, can you talk a little bit about that? Because that’s hard for people to do.

FAHAD TAHIR: Sure. Well, you know, growing up with physicians and in physician practices, there’s a certain culture in our physician practices that I’ve gotten exposed to, and with great teachers, really gotten to see the potential and the benefits of collaboration, that, you know, many pockets of healthcare don’t enjoy today, and so, what’s happened over decades, is health care has become a bunch of isolated, entrenched interests.


FAHAD TAHIR: And, folks don’t collaborate, and there’s a lot of potential that’s mutually beneficial, that doesn’t get realized. Ultimately this is about addition, not subtraction. I don’t think you grow with subtraction, you grow with addition, with collaborating and coming together. And, so, growing up and working with physicians, that was the culture of our physician practice that I was raised in. And so, as I’ve transitioned into this role, leading out Saint Thomas Midtown and Saint Thomas West hospitals, I specifically look for ways to partner with health plans and independent physicians, to be the partner of choice, that brings those partners together. And we believe, that when we align our goals, we can do a lot more for the patient. When we see that whole picture, versus when we work in isolated, self-interested ways. And, so, we’re really proud of the culture that we’re setting, and we’re proud of some of the early accomplishments we’ve seen in taking that approach. And we really believe that will be our single differential factor, that not just work in how we are to work with, with our physicians and health plans, but also it allows us, because we can see this whole picture for the patient, we believe we can take care of the patient better, by quarterbacking that entire experience for the patient.

DONNA GRIGGS: So, what results, what kind of results, have you seen, because of those efforts?

FAHAD TAHIR: Sure. Well, we’re really, there’s a variety of things that we do to be the partner of choice, from a collaboration standpoint. So, in addition to our two hospitals, we have 17 ambulatory surgery centers and specialty hospital that we co-own with surgeons, that are joint-ventured surgery centers. That allows us to expand beyond the hospital, to have these surgery centers, that allow surgery to be accessible, and for our surgeons and Saint Thomas, that together, bring surgical care closer to home for patients. And so we’re really proud of that. It’s a high-quality, cost-effective option for our patients, and for health plans, right? So it’s mutually beneficial for the health plan. Likewise, we did take that same approach with imaging. So we have imaging centers throughout the region, we did those a joint-venture partnerships, to enhance high-quality, cost-effective, freestanding imaging centers throughout the region. They’re all over town, so it becomes a place where patients can have accessible, and affordable care, with the Saint Thomas brand of quality they can trust, and it’s co-owned with our radiology partners. That’s the spirit of one plus one equals three, that additive approach to collaboration we’re really proud of. Recently, just to continue to be at the innovative front, we looked at opportunities to partner with our primary care physicians, to help navigate through the set of Medicare legislative changes that are happening throughout the country. And we’ve formed, over the last several years, an accountable care organization, called Ascension Care Management, and it’s part of a national network of population health efforts that Ascension has in place, here in Tennessee. I co-lead that group with Ascension Care Management and physician partners. And so, a lot of large, multi-specialty groups and Saint Thomas come together in this accountable care organization. We manage the total health, and cost, of 34,000 Medicare beneficiaries. That allows us to manage the total health of those individuals and families and really make a positive difference. And our physicians are right there with us, looking at everything about these beneficiaries. And Medicare’s entrusting us to manage the total quality and cost as an accountable care organization. That’s just one more example of partnership. What I’m really excited about, introducing next year, which we’ve never done before, but we are going to be introducing in a more significant way in this community, is outpatient total joint surgery. So, we have been working with our orthopedic surgeons and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, to introduce outpatient total joint surgery at scale throughout middle Tennessee. We really believe the incredible progress that’s been made by great clinical thinkers, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery, and our own orthopedic surgery partners here, will allow us to create a safe, and thoughtful approach to outpatient total joint surgery. So within a few hours, a patient has their surgery and can, potentially, go home the same day.

DONNA GRIGGS: Instead of how many days?

FAHAD TAHIR: Three days.

DONNA GRIGGS: Three to five?

FAHAD TAHIR: Yeah, and even more than that 10 years ago. I mean, there were days 10 years ago, we were bringing a patient to the hospital for a week, and then they might have gone to rehab, and been there for a couple of weeks to recover. I mean, the incredible clinicians that have innovatively continued to improve that clinical and patient experience, to reduce that burden of surgery for patients, to the point where we can do it outpatient now.

DONNA GRIGGS: That’s fabulous. Well, thank you so much. If you have one tip that you were gonna give new leaders, what one tip would you give them? Because you’ve been at this now for quite a while.

FAHAD TAHIR: I have, I have. And, you know, I try to be really intentional about the approach that I take, and I think you can hear that. The thing I remind myself to be most intentional about is to listen first and to be self-aware. And I say them together because you have to be self-aware enough to know that you may not always know the answer if you don’t listen. And you have to listen with the seeking to understand. And if you can do that in combination, in each interaction, then I think you can truly learn everything that you need to know. And our physicians and our staff know the answer to all the questions that plague us. We just have to listen and find them.

DONNA GRIGGS: Excellent. Well, thank you so much for being part of our video today.

FAHAD TAHIR: Thank you.

DONNA GRIGGS: It was great seeing you again, and I’ll look forward to more conversation.


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