Bob Anderson

Q&A with Bob Anderson, COO of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

November 17, 2016
by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor
HealthCare Business News recently spoke with Bob Anderson, COO of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Illinois, to learn about his background as well as the latest about the facility.

HCB News: What inspired you to get into the health care field?
That goes back to high school. I enjoyed science and heard about medical technology from my science teacher.

HCB News: How long have you been with OSF Saint Francis and how long have you been in your current role?
I came to Saint Francis as a student, and earned my bachelor’s and joined the lab as a medical technologist in 1981. I’ve been COO since 2011. Before that, I served in various roles, becoming director of lab services in 1987 and corporate director of laboratories in 1998. In 2005, I became the vice-president of technical support and services.

HCB News: What is the management style like at Saint Francis?
It’s very collaborative. Nursing, clinical and nonclinical all work together. I think leadership throughout is collaborative and reaching out beyond traditional boundaries.

HCB News: What attracts staff?
We are a tertiary medical center, a Level I trauma, level-three neonatal center. That, along with other specialties, offers exposure to a lot of different types of patient care. I think that’s attractive to some, at least initially. But I think that staff tends to stay due to the culture, mission and the collaborative environment.

HCB News: Obviously the range of services you provide attracts patients, but are there other reasons patients come to Saint Francis?
Patients are getting more involved. While many large medical centers could be categorized as high-tech, not high-touch, I think we get it right. I round with patients daily and one of the main messages I hear from them is that they feel they are being compassionately cared for. I think we also do a good job of providing the ability for our patients to access their records and for them to be major partners in their care. In 2008, we implemented EPIC in our physician offices. Today, it’s across all our areas of care. Home care and all of OSF allows patients to access their medical records through MyChart online. It allows for their information to go wherever they’re getting care and that’s a major benefit to them, but also to us as care providers.

HCB News: What challenges, if any, does your facility face?
I think the challenges we face aren’t different than the challenges faced by other facilities across the country. There’s the shift from acute care to population health-based focus. That’s a different emphasis than where the focus has been in the past. We cover a larger area though, so the challenge on that front has been increasing, perhaps faster than what other facilities are seeing. Our capacity challenges also continue to increase as programs in our area that are not associated with Saint Francis close. And, of course, there are reimbursement challenges

HCB News: Are there any recent developments you’d like to highlight?
Our big news has been our investment in an intraoperative MRI, enabling our neurosurgeons to do advanced brain tumor resection. In a nutshell, patients are able to go from the MRI to the operating room and back while sedated during the procedure. It allows for a higher level of surgical care.

HCB News: What are your predictions for what health care will be in 10 years?
Well, I’m not sure if my crystal ball is any clearer than the next guy’s, but I have some thoughts. I think 10 years from now, we’re going to be far down a path to turn health care over to the consumer and that will determine when and how it’s delivered. Even if you’re a professional in acute care, it’s going to change how you make yourself available based on consumer needs. There will be greater emphasis on wellness, ambulatory care and what we can do to help keep people out of the hospital. That can be done if we focus on the care they get at the primary care level.

One of the other things I think will change the landscape is where we are headed with oncology and cancer care. How can we streamline the process to get patients to treatment faster? That opens up new avenues of communication between professionals to provide that improved level of care.