Becker's CEO + CFO Roundtable 2019: 3 Questions with Fayola Edwards-Ojeba, CEO and Founder at RechargedMD

Fayola Edwards-Ojeba, MD, serves as the Chief Executive Officer and Founder at RechargedMD.

On November 12th, Dr. Edwards-Ojeba will give a presentation "It's Not Burnout, it's CHAOS (Chronis Healthcare Associated Occupational Stress) - Navigating The Impact of Physician Disengagement on Healthcare Delivery " at Becker's 8th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable. As part of an ongoing series, Becker's is talking to healthcare leaders who plan to speak at the conference, which will take place November 11-13, 2019 in Chicago.

There is a lot to improve upon in healthcare. Of the many issues that hold your attention, what is the one you consider exceptionally imperative and urgent?

Fayola Edward-Ojeba: I have a strong interest in addressing physician burnout on a large scale. I have suffered from burnout during my medical career and felt that there were not many resources available. Only after sharing my experience, I realized a large number of my fellow colleagues/physicians were feeling the same way. The culture of medicine calls for physicians to be infallible and super-human, so a lot of people end up suffering in silence. While acknowledging that burnout is the result of a fractured healthcare system and not an individual shortcoming, we need to create more opportunities for clinicians to connect and support each other. I hope to be part of the movement to change the dialogue from an emphasis on improving physician resilience to addressing the systemic issues that have caused the crisis we are currently facing.

Healthcare leaders today need skills and talents that span beyond those emphasized during formal training and higher education. What one specific competency do you believe up-and-coming healthcare leaders would benefit from strengthening outside the classroom?

Broadly, leadership development skills are not emphasized in medical education. It's understandable because there is so much clinical information to know to take high-quality care of patients. With the rapid development of new treatment options and testing, it is challenging enough to stay abreast of the rapid changes in healthcare. That being said, I think physicians as a whole could benefit from more opportunities for formal leadership development training. Thankfully, a lot of training programs are recognizing this need and are developing leadership courses for medical students and resident trainees. Physicians are resourceful, problem-solvers by nature and powerful advocates for their patients. Their voices need to be heard and represented in this rapidly evolving healthcare system.

What is one convention, tradition or habit that healthcare has adopted and left unquestioned that you feel either needs to stop or undergo thoughtful scrutiny? Why?

FE: The health insurance industry yields a lot of power. Their decisions regarding repayment structures have far-reaching effects on healthcare delivery. Most insurance companies are primarily for-profit entities that inherently focus on increasing profits for their shareholders. This incentive is at odds with the premise of providing coverage for patients. As a primary care physician, I spent many hours trying to get approvals for prior authorizations that were eventually approved but only after jumping through many hoops. It seemed that the process was made deliberately cumbersome to prevent payment for necessary procedures or tests. We need a structure that is financially sustainable and has patients' best interest as the primary focus.