HomeHealth Healthcare Insider Podcast: Why ProMedica’s CEO is calling for a new healthcare model: Episode 3

Healthcare Insider Podcast: Why ProMedica’s CEO is calling for a new healthcare model: Episode 3

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Fawn Lopez:

Hello and welcome to Healthcare Insider, a sponsored content podcast series for Modern Healthcare Custom Media. I’m Fawn Lopez, publisher of Modern Healthcare and vice president of Crane Communications. I’m thrilled again to be joined by Randy Oostra, CEO of ProMedica, a health and wellbeing company headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. Over the last few months, Randy has shared with us why he believes now is the time for new model of care delivery. In this episode, we’re discussing how addressing the climate crisis must be a strategic pillar of creating a new delivery model, sharing the essential role healthcare organizations must play in reducing carbon emissions.

Before we dive in, I’d like to thank Randy and ProMedica for the sponsorship of this podcast series. ProMedica is a mission driven not-for-profit organization focused on improving the health and wellbeing of people in hundreds of communities across the country. ProMedica has a bold vision to reimagine healthcare and how it is delivered by integrating care throughout a person’s lifetime. Randy, thank you so much for being here with us today. I’m so looking forward to seeing you next week at our ESG, the New Imperative Summit, and can’t wait to talk to you about this topic and sharing your insight and best practices with our audience.

Randy Oostra:

Thank you, Fawn. Today is just another great opportunity to talk about a really great topic in something that I feel personally very passionate about. And again, thanks to you for your leadership, Modern Healthcare, and one of these issues that really needs to be brought to the forefront, and your work has really done that.

Fawn Lopez:

Efforts to address climate change fall into the ESG framework, which stands for environment, social and governance. Why must climate change be part of the mission to transform healthcare delivery? And what are the reasons ESG is good for business?

Randy Oostra:

I think it starts philosophically a bit, we’ve talked about this before, what’s our role in society? Is that only to take care of people when they walk through our doors? Just look up what happened in Florida, the hurricane. Is our only role just to take care of people that have been impacted by climate change and we have no other responsibilities. And so I think that’s kind of a pivotal discussion that leaders, especially in healthcare have to think about, what’s our role outside of our walls? So the environment has a very significant impact on health. We know that. We see that every day. And it’s amazing that healthcare hasn’t talked more about it over the last decades. It does get some mention, but really not to the point where we would think about. The ESG term has been a bit politicized recently, but clearly ESG isn’t going away.

And it kind of reminds you of the early days of social determinants where people go, “I’m not doing that. I don’t get paid to do it. I’m not interested.” Now, we talked about it a lot. I think to put some context to it as well, 75% of carbon emissions in our history has really happened over the last 14 years. So what we see is heat related deaths amongst the elderly have gone up about 50% over the last two decades. We see children across the world, There’s 2.2 billion children, and we start to see five million deaths annually because of climate change. We got to look at that. And you think about the extreme risk, and in fact UNICEF study where they talked about children being under extremely high risk for the impacts of climate change, and I think they called it unimaginably dire and deeply inequitable. We talk a lot about health inequities.

Climate change adds to that mix. So, we think about disease burden and there’s been a lot of studies around that and what that does for people’s lives. And really the extreme weather that we’ve seen and the global threat, whether it’s wildfires impacting people’s respiratory and cardiovascular illness, getting matter into the air and how that impacts people’s lives. And then just the natural disasters and people that are living in tough situations, their lives are impacted more. So, we think about homelessness, we think about hunger, we think about disruptions to education, disruptions to life, mental health. So we start to see all this impact from climate change. And then the question for all of us is what does that do? And what’s role in all this? And I think there are folks who are going to say, “None of my business, I just take care of people who come through our door.”

And I think we’re away from that. When you start looking at everything that’s happening, government regulations, ramping up taxes, incentives, regulators, bond holders, investment, the number of people that are requiring ESG reporting. So, really I think when you think about the reasons for all of us to do it, I think it starts with our mission, what we’re about, what we do every day, this fact about being outside of our walls, broadening our role in society. Something that I like to look at every year is something called the Edelman Trust Index. And in 2022 it was interesting for the first time individuals looked at business to make societal changes. So you begin to think about that from your own perspective as a healthcare organization, art people care and they want to work for these kind of organizations. So if you think about putting it part of your culture, increasingly our patients care about these sort of topics. And again, just what we’re doing from a social responsibility.

And then from a regulatory and investor standpoint, when you look at the number of companies that are doing SG reporting and how slow healthcare has been again and these kind of issues, and healthcare is slow in a lot of these sort of issues. And again, it’s the fact that it’s just part of business that it’s just something that we need to do. When you think about the COVID and the inequities we talked about, climate change really adds to those inequities.

Fawn Lopez:

So true. You packed so much into that answer. What you said at the beginning of your comment was that it’s been disappointing that healthcare hasn’t talked much about ESG. And that is exactly the reason why Modern Healthcare is committed to putting a spotlight on ESG, the series that we’d put on this year is part of our commitment to addressing it. So love to continue to get healthcare leaders to get on board and to talk with us like you are talking with us about ESG.

To your point, Randy, you touch upon the impact of climate crisis in your comments and how healthcare is a major contributor to that. What are some impactful and meaningful changes healthcare organizations can implement to reduce their carbon impact?

Randy Oostra:

I think ESG is something, whether you like that term or not, it’s something that you’re never going to quite get a handle on, to be honest. I think it’s something that you work towards, is one of these goals that really continue to work towards over and over again. And I think the notion here is just really starting to put together a process, a way to start to look at these sort of issues and really begin to think about from your own organization how these things work. So think it starts with embedding ESG in your strategy, beginning to talk about it not only internal, but really build an attitude, a culture around sustainability, creating action plans, thinking about how we’re going to measure, how we’re going to be transparent. This isn’t a competitive thing. So if there was ever a time to network together and think about this globally together, it’s these sort of issues. And I know you’ve been highlighting that.And then you just look practically, I know in one of your monographs that you produced, there was a great example from Ohio State that reduced some of their medical gases. It was a gas that had caused significant impact on the environment. So not only did they do it, but they saved $300,000. And I think when you start looking at all those issues, whether it’s emissions from transportation, whether it’s boilers and how your boilers work, how you purchase energy, working with the GPOs, and I think you talk to people that are in the ESG industry, they’re very critical of the GPOs in healthcare, that they’re not embracing ESG and being fairly resistant. So I think as people who work with the GPOs, we have to encourage them, call them out, if you will, to really do more. And then it’s just everything from medical supplies and thinking about waste, green models of care, reducing, really asking ORs and single use sort of packets and things.

And really, again, just think about how we use water, how we use energy. We used to have an administrator who used to complain all the time where people walked out of conference rooms and didn’t turn the lights off. It’s really quite interesting how we haven’t paid a lot of attention to it. With HHS pledge to mobilize healthcare, which they came out last April, this idea about reducing emissions by 50% by 2030 and then being net zero by 2050, all these sort of things. I think really when you begin to think it makes great business sets. And I think when you start looking at it, rather than taking the approach, it’s going to cost us a bunch of money. I think as your monograph pointed out, no, this actually is good not only for the climate, it’s good for people, it’s actually good for your business model. And I think there’s great examples out there, and I know you’ve highlighted some of those already.

Fawn Lopez:

Reducing carbon emissions requires investment and resources. And as we all know, we’re in a very challenging time in healthcare. As such, some healthcare organizations may not be willing to take those steps. Why should ESG be an important strategy for health systems?

Randy Oostra:

ESG is not going away, whether you like that term or not, it’s not going away. 90% of S&P’s 500 list report regularly on ESG. So you begin to look at that. You look at the HHS pledge that I just talked about. You look at all the companies that are investing based on ESG data, it’s critically important. So, mandated reporting is coming, there’s no doubt about it. And the idea that you’re going to wait for this to happen. And again, it’s just like this idea of leadership. What’s our leadership role here? When you think about climate change, it’s impact on people’s health and wellbeing and the fact that we’re saying we’re not going to deal with that. We’re only going to deal with the effects of it. I really don’t think that’s really what we’re called to do. And I don’t think healthcare leaders would agree with that.

And so what happens, and I think sometimes we become so focused on inside our walls, we haven’t taken this more global view and we haven’t taken a leadership role. Some people would point to gun violence, some people would point to other issues, the changing the healthcare model. When we think about that, it’s not going away. Increasingly, people are looking to us, to our staff, people we serve in communities to take leadership roles. And I think we know our patients care. We know investors care, we know regulators care. We just have had some great examples of cost savings, in that these things do make sense if you get into them and you really take that sort of zero waste sort of ideas.

I just read a survey this morning that said only 20% of leadership thinks ESG is a significant priority of theirs. I think that’s got to be something, not that any of us have got this perfect, but at least you got to identify this is coming, you know it’s coming, you know it’s important. And so I think for each organization we have to get our arms around it and we have to get people mobilized to do work for our systems.

Fawn Lopez:

It’s our responsibility to move the needle on the number of leaders that should embrace ESG as the strategic imperatives. To that point, according to Board Practices Quarterly diversity, equity and inclusion, human capital management and environmental and sustainability matters ranked among the top four board priorities this year. As such, how should healthcare leaders go about making the business case to their boards that addressing climate change must be a strategic imperative.

Randy Oostra:

That’s just our role in society. Who better to be a leader in this than healthcare? And the idea that people are going to say, “Why I don’t get paid to do it. I’m not going to do it.” Or it’s not a priority of mine, it should be anybody’s priority. When you think about health, when you think about inequities, when you think about how climate change impacts people that have inequities and creates even more challenges in their life, just from a business standpoint.

And again what we’ve already talked about, the role and how people are looking for organizations, we think about workforce, retaining people. People want to work for these kind of organizations. And when you begin to articulate care, whether it’s in social determinants, whether it’s diversity, equity, inclusion, whether it’s climate change, those are all the sort of things people are opting into those kind of companies. So I think there’s a strong business case. You’ve highlighted organizations that have significant savings when they’ve done these sort of sustainability measures.

Fawn Lopez:

And we need to learn from all those best practices. So, you’ve been at this for a long time now. Certainly you had presented this imperative to you board. Would you be willing to share how you had presented this priority to your board and how did they react to it?

Randy Oostra:

Yeah, we’ve kind of stumbled our way through this. Like most organizations we’ve had fits and starts. We’ve had a lot of sustainability sort of efforts. I think you got to get the right people in the room, the people who believe. And so early on, like we did with social determinants, it’s a matter of getting the right group of people together. So we had this system committee that we put together, people that would sing into the choir, the SDOH people, our diversity equity inclusion, our supply chain, construction people. I was very involved from a leadership standpoint. It’s just trying to articulate kind of a strategic direction of why we care. And again, a lot of this is [inaudible 00:13:34] education and tell people why. It’s just more than a feel good thing. It’s actually the right thing to do. And oh, by the way, it makes business sense.

We engaged an outside consultant, we identified goals, more specific goals each year as we’ve gone along, we’ve embedded it in our strategy. We’ve talked about it with our board. Is it perfect? No. Is it directionally better than it’s been? Yes. And I think that’s for all of us. As we start, we just start making goals and starting to talk about it. And then networking with peers, because some folks are doing some great work and you’ve highlighted a lot of that. The link to diversity, equity and inclusion is strong as well as for us, our community investments, the social determinants, whether in our case we’ve looked at food and housing and universal pre-K, all that makes great sense. And all that is linked together.

So as we think about health and wellbeing, to ignore climate change absolutely makes no sense today. I know it can be politicized, but when we begin to think of what’s happening around us, healthcare needs to catch up if you’re not already there, If we’ve not been there and really hold to task our GPOs and others to say this is a big issue. We are a contributor to climate change in the world. We’re contributing carbon admissions and we need to start to address that. We are a mission based nonprofit largely, and we have a social responsibility. So yeah, I think all those things kind of work together and it’s really for the benefit to our organizations, the benefit to our patients, and really just as we think about global health and wellbeing, that’s really what we’re driving here.

Fawn Lopez:

Thank you for that. Clearly ProMedica has an ESG framework in place. Would you be willing to talk about that? And more importantly, would you be willing to share the benefits of ESG for ProMedica?

Randy Oostra:

We talk a lot in our organization about social determinants and more recently about ESG. And when I have talked to people that have joined our organization, been part of our organization, what do they respond to? So, of course they’re clinical people, they feel strongly about that. But when we articulate those strategies around outside of our walls, community impact, roles of anchor institutions, this idea that we care about social determinants, we care about diversity, equity, inclusion, we care about ESG. Forbes named us as one of the great employers for new grads. And why would we get that? Because the people who are joining us believe in these sort of things. So, I think as we’ve put together this approach, we’ve really tried to articulate to everyone why we believe this is all connected, why we believe strongly in it, why we want to make sure we’re doing the right things for people and society and addressing these sort of issues. That’s what people are looking for us to do. That’s what they’re looking for business to do. And how much more important is it for healthcare to do it? So those are the type of things that really drive us. And again, we’re not perfect, but we’ve got an approach, we’ve got some help, we’ve got goals, and we’re vowing to do better every year.

Fawn Lopez:

Randy, thank you so much for this conversation. More importantly, thank you for your leadership, for your commitment to addressing ESG. You were the first leader that came on board to support Modern Healthcare, our ESGs initiative for 2022. And I can’t thank you enough for your support that will enable us to share best practices, ideas with healthcare leaders.

Randy Oostra:

Thank you, Fawn. I mean your leadership, Modern Healthcare’s leadership, your personal leadership in this issue, this is how we create change in organizations. And it’s when someone like Modern Healthcare highlights these issues says, “Hey, you need to figure this out. You need to listen to people that are doing this work. This is all for the greater good.” You personally in Modern Healthcare, has tremendous influence and really appreciate you getting behind this and really being a leader.

Fawn Lopez:

Thank you. This has been an episode of Healthcare Insider created in collaboration with ProMedica. To our audience, thank you for tuning in. This conversation with Randy Oostra was the final in a series of three. To listen to the first two episodes with Randy and more episodes of Healthcare Insider, go to multimedia section on ModernHealthcare.com or subscribe at your preferred podcaster. I’m your host, Fawn Lopez. Thanks for listening.

Source : Modern Healthcare

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