WYOMING — Dr. Peter Hahn brings a first to the CEO position at Metro Health – University of Michigan Health System: a background as a physician.
A pulmonologist, Hahn says his selection as president and CEO follows a national trend toward physician-led health care organizations in an era of value-based care and reimbursement. For example, physicians lead world-class health care providers such as the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, Cleveland Clinic, and the University of Michigan Health System’s Michigan Medicine in Ann Arbor.
As a physician, Hahn brings “just a different perspective” as CEO and “knows the ins and outs of health care on a frontline basis.” Executives say he has firsthand knowledge of medical processes and where errors can occur, understands issues such as physician burnout, and can better engage with the medical staff, whether in adding new service lines or in the push to reduce cost and raise quality.
“To do that well, to really focus on quality and lower cost, you need to engage and align physicians. Without that engagement of physicians, you can’t do it,” said Hahn, who served as Metro Health’s chief medical officer for more than two years.
Hahn takes over as president and CEO on Oct. 1.
“When I ask them (physicians) to come together around an initiative, it works much better,” Hahn said. “A physician CEO brings that credibility. They know where the person’s coming from. They know what I’ve done and the kind of training I’ve had.”
An Okemos native, Hahn returned to Michigan in May 2016 to join Metro Health as CMO. He previously worked at Hillsboro, Ore.-based Tuality Healthcare, a two-hospital system west of Portland where he served in administrative positions for about six years. They include vice chief of staff and director of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, and medical director for specialties for Tuality Medical Group.
Prior to the stint in Oregon, Hahn worked at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for about 13 years. During his time at the Mayo Clinic, Hahn felt the urge to move into health care administration.
“I really realized there what a physician-led, mission-led organization can be and do,” he said. “One of the reasons that health care is in the state that it’s at is because it hasn’t been physician-led. Physicians have been doing their thing, making their money and all of that, but we haven’t done a great job stepping up to truly lead health care organizations.”
Hahn earned his medical degree from Michigan State University and received an MBA from the University of Tennessee Haslam College of Business.
As Metro Health began the search for a successor to long-time president and CEO Mike Faas, some board members and medical staffers prioritized hiring a physician to become the next leader as a “very critical” aspect of the process, said board co-chairman Carlos Sanchez.
Working with Chicago-based executive search firm Witt/Kieffer Inc., directors conducted what Sanchez described as an “exhaustive” nationwide search. Metro Health initially considered 15 candidates that Witt/Kieffer submitted to directors, who narrowed the list to three finalists, according to Sanchez.
They ultimately made Hahn a unanimous choice to succeed Faas, who a decade ago led the health system’s move to a new suburban campus in Wyoming and piloted the 2016 merger with the University of Michigan Health System.
Hahn was a key figure in the affiliation and in developing a five-year strategic plan for Metro Health under the new ownership, a plan that has led to the expansion of clinical services and outlines future moves.
“It came down to who we could select that would keep the momentum going,” Sanchez said. “It came down to Peter would be the best one to help us get through that fairly quickly.”
As part of U-M Health System, Metro Health has actively recruited physicians and acquired practices to grow its medical staff to more than 250 employed doctors, as well as initiated new clinical services. They include a comprehensive stroke center that recently earned certification in just nine months, and a neck and throat cancer program staffed by physicians from Michigan Medicine.
Metro Health also wants to build cancer specialties by further working with Michigan Medicine, Hahn said.
“We’re continuing to build around cancer. Cancer is an area for the West Michigan community that we feel we have to really develop,” he said.
Metro Health also will look to build its primary care presence in the market.
The health system has 17 primary care offices. Metro Health will open four or five more clinics over the next year or two, as well as continue to recruit more physicians.
“We’re really trying to recruit physician leaders (and) program builders. That’s the kind of folks we want,” Hahn said.
He intends to “relentlessly and prudently” carry out the five-year strategic plan developed after the U-M Health System merger. Under his leadership, Metro will be “relentless about innovation and growth, (and) growth not for the sake of getting bigger in size, but growth for the sake of bringing choice to the community and bringing world-class programs that patients can have access to,” Hahn said.
Metro Health today can handle 95 percent or more of what patients need. For highly specialized care, the health system refers patients to Ann Arbor for treatment.
“My vision is that we would be the premier health care organization in West Michigan with a relentless focus of putting the patient in the center of everything we do,” he said. “We want to be a comprehensive, world-class community hospital, and where it makes sense and where the community needs, we’re going to build a world-class referral program for all of West Michigan.
“The beauty of this relationship is we built it to make that seamless.”
Once Hahn starts this fall as president and CEO, he and the board of directors will review the strategic plan to see what areas Metro Health can reprioritize and possibly accelerate, Sanchez said.
Naming a new CEO from within who is already well-acquainted with the health system and market provides a level of continuity as Metro Health transitions leadership, Sanchez said. Hahn can readily continue the progress that Metro Health has made since the U-M Health System merger, he added.
“Another person would take a little bit of time getting to know West Michigan and know the hospital culture, and then start implementing the plan,” Sanchez said. “We’ve had such momentum in the last year and a half, we didn’t want to slow that down.”