Creating the new role of chief medical officer positions Hope Network to better meet the major trends occurring in health care today as well as to craft new partnerships with care providers.
Dr. Kiran Taylor joined Hope Network in November from Spectrum Health, where she served as chief of psychiatry and behavioral medicine.
As health care looks more at tackling what’s known as the social determinants of health and addressing the health of the population across various markets — and as behavioral health and medical care increasingly integrate services for patients — Taylor brings to Hope Network a greater ability to adjust accordingly, said President and CEO Phil Weaver.
When discussing new partnerships with medical care providers, Hope Network now has an executive who can “talk to the doctors at the doctor level,” plus set strategy for what services are needed and evaluate possibilities.
A senior-level executive CMO position ensures all of that happens with continuity, Weaver said.
“We’re moving into a new era and that’s going to require new expertise,” Weaver said. “If we truly can do population health, the expertise that’s going to be required to manage that and to run that is going to be enormous, and the processes are many.”
In Taylor, Hope Network hired a chief medical officer who is “a leader and visionary in the behavioral health field,” Weaver said. “Her experience with large health systems and demonstrated expertise in mental health innovation makes her a valuable asset in the health care field.”
Hope Network annually serves more than 20,000 people with mental illness, developmental disabilities and addictions. The nonprofit organization works in 240 communities across Michigan.
As chief medical officer, Taylor will work to “further improve the patient experience” and grow Hope Network’s behavioral health and substance abuse programs, according to an announcement of her appointment.
At Spectrum Health, Taylor worked to embed social workers into 35 primary care offices and fully integrate depression and anxiety screening, implemented suicide prevention training across the system, and initiated tele-psychiatry in small towns that lacked a local behavioral health provider.
Helping to lead Hope Network in the era of population health and the integration of medical and mental health attracted Taylor to the position, as did the opportunity to help the organization craft new partnerships. She previously advocated for programs at Spectrum Health to address social determinants of health.
“When I look at the big picture, one of my career visions is to fix that so we marry those three areas of health — physical, mental and social determinants — to help people have the best quality of life they can have,” Taylor said. “Hope Network has many more of those pieces of that puzzle that we want to put together.”
For example, Taylor cites kidney patients who miss dialysis appointments because they lack a ride to their treatment. Hope Network has a transportation service that can address that issue.
The organization also has services to help people with developmental disabilities, addictions or other social issues, such as people who don’t take their depression medication because they don’t have the money “and are focused on where they’re going to sleep tonight,” or because “they’re going to follow where their drug addiction takes them.”
An initial target for Hope Network is looking at how better to put those services to work internally for its clients, and to connect and collaborate with care providers that see social barriers to care that affect their patients’ health every day.
Hope Network has “ongoing conversations” with the three large health systems based in Grand Rapids — Spectrum Health, Mercy Health, and Metro Health-University of Michigan — about how they can collaborate more on population health, Taylor said.
One focus of early discussions is on how to better transition patients with “high behavioral health needs” to those services in connection with their medical care, she said.
“In a year, I would love to see even further development around those things and say, ‘We’re getting these folks to the care they need more efficiently and in a more seamless way that’s more patient-friendly,” Taylor said.
Two-thirds of Hope Network’s clients with a chronic mental illness also have a medical condition such as diabetes, or they have faced difficulty keeping a doctor’s appointment, she said. One in five has missed work because of a mental health issue, Taylor said.
Potential partnerships to address those and other issues would look at where care providers can complement what Hope Networks does, she said.
“Nobody can build it all; together we can do more,” Taylor said. “It’s definitely a mutually collaborative strategy for success in the future that I see.”
In fact, Weaver considers collaboration essential to effectively addressing population health.
In looking to partner more, Hope Network wants to leverage its strength with the capabilities and expertise of medical care providers, he said.
“The fact of the matter is we have to figure out how to work together,” Weaver said. “When people stay in their lane and allow other people to stay in their lane and then meet together, it can be a powerful tool for health care.”
Hope Network pursues that effort as it continues to grow and expand across Michigan.
The organization earlier this year acquired West Brook Recovery in Grand Rapids and has been expanding its addiction program that provides medically-assisted treatment. Hope Network is considering adding more clinics in markets such as Mt. Pleasant, Weaver said.
In 2018, Hope Network opened a residential care center in St. Ignace, and most recently opened an autism center in Walker in November.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to correct a typo in Dr. Kiran Taylor’s name.