The Class of 2018 profiles the women and men who joined the AHA board this year.

 

Hospitals and health systems must adapt to a revolution in information transparency that has turned patients into “powerful health care consumers,” says AHA board member Steven Johnson, president and CEO of Susquehanna Health in Williamsport, Pa.

“Change is being driven by consumerism,” says Johnson, who joined the AHA’s board in January.  “We need to reorient our caregivers – our doctors, nurses and front-line staff to appreciate today’s health care consumers and a retail-oriented, transparent environment that is very different from the business most of us grew up in.”

He says managing this “transformation from passive patient to active consumer” is a top priority for Susquehanna Health, a clinically integrated faith-based health system that includes four hospitals, a health insurance network, a medical group, two skilled nursing and rehabilitation centers and a hospice.

“We are reinventing our own infrastructure to meet the needs of patients where they live and work,” says Johnson, pointing to facilities like its year-old Health Innovation Center.

The 88,000 square foot facility offers a centralized hub of health care specialists for patients and a medical link to community services and outreach in Williamsport’s urban core. The center is connected to the Williamsport Regional Medical Center and includes: the Family Medicine Residency Practice, Commonwealth Medical College, community education room, Heart & Vascular Institute, OB/GYN and general surgery practices, a Joint and Spine Center, a pharmacy and a durable medical equipment company.

“The major focus of efforts that include the Health Innovation Center and a number of outpatient and retail-oriented clinics is on the changing needs of our consumers and understanding that there are different needs for different age cohorts of patients and different needs for patients experiencing differing disease or health challenges,” Johnson says.

He says the AHA has an important role to play in helping the field change with the times. “The AHA is doing an outstanding job of providing the toolkits, resources and training to help the field more effectively understand today’s consumers and serve them appropriately,” he says.

In a rapidly changing health care world, he sees the AHA board serving as an “aggregator of ideas and solutions, a thought leader and knowledge transfer agent for the field.”

Johnson has been an administrator with Susquehanna Health for 32 years, first hired as the personnel director for Williamsport Hospital and Medical Center in 1984. He became Susquehanna Health’s president and CEO in 2004. He served the past two years as chairman of the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania, and now chairs the AHA’s Regional Policy Board 2.

Johnson is impressed with the depth of the AHA’s commitment to vulnerable people and communities – a commitment that he sees represented in the board’s “Redefining the H” initiative.  

The field is “undergoing incredible transformation, yet still needs to maintain an appropriate connection with the community,” he says. “Whether the focus is on quality, population health management, integrating care, increasing access to care, reducing inappropriate admissions, demonstrating measurable gains in outcomes or reducing harm, those are all fundamental elements to redefining the H.”

As an AHA board member, Johnson looks forward to “serving with leaders in the field who are doing remarkable work in their communities. It’s a great opportunity to share ideas around the table with many extraordinarily talented people.”