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CEO Spotlight: John Buckley

Name: John Buckley

Degree/Specialty: BS and MBA - Hospital Administration

What has been your experience of working in healthcare?

I have had a 40 year career of managing acute care hospital environments. I have worked in both stand alone facilities as well as institutions which are affiliated with large healthcare systems. I have served as a hospital CEO during the last 28 years of my career.

What do you wish the general public knew about physicians and/or hospital administrators?

I think it would be helpful from both a physician and administrative perspective if patients had a more in-depth understanding of how much influence payors have on the care process. I don't think most patients appreciate the degree that the insurance company's policies drive decisions related to where/when patients receive care, which diagnostic tests the patients will undergo, how long a patient will stay in a hospital/SNF, etc. I also feel that it would be helpful if patients had a better understanding of the global economics of the healthcare industry.

For example, patients frequently receive a document from their insurer entitled "Explanation of Benefits" (EOB) which outlines the services they have received and the charges the provider has billed for those services. The charges are always significantly higher than the actual payment the provider receives for the services (many times the actual payment is 20% or less than the charge), but patients are not aware of this. This scenario creates confusion on the part of the patients and leaves them with the perception that the provider has been paid significantly more than they actually received.

What is the most challenging part about work in our current healthcare system?

Currently, I feel the most challenging part of healthcare is the uncertainty of the future of the delivery system. As evidenced by the recent mid-term elections, healthcare is the most significant social issue on the minds of voters and the lack of any unified approach at the federal level compounds an already complicated industry. I am hopeful that federal legislators on both sides of the aisle can come together and craft a single vision for the future of healthcare which enhances access, maintains the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and is economically sustainable on a long term basis.

What motivates you at the end of a long day?

Ironically, I find myself motivated by the challenges of the industry. The need for healthcare services is not going away, therefore it is extremely important that healthcare leaders maintain their focus on improving the system and resolving today's challenges. This scenario serves as a major motivational force for me.

How can we start to positively affect healthcare?

The following thoughts come to mind when I think about how we can positively influence healthcare of the future: - continue to educate elected officials at both the federal and state level on the realities of the industry to positively impact how care is rendered - on an ongoing basis continue to refine provider connectivity through EMRs and Health Information Exchanges - develop creative ways to encourage more physicians and physician extenders to fill primary care roles - hold providers and systems more accountable for patient outcomes - place a greater emphasis on the patient experience.

What’s your dream for the future of healthcare?

I would like to see a future healthcare system that: - affords greater access for patients at all levels - operates with less influence from governmental entities - offers patients greater transparency with regard to quality metrics and cost information.

Short Bio (Name, professional title, social media links)

John Buckley, recently retired from the Geisinger Health System (Pennsylvania); currently providing healthcare executive coaching services (

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