Name: J. Larry Shackelford
Hospital: President and CEO Washington Regional Medical System
Education: B.S. Business Administration from the University of Arkansas
First job in health care: Fayetteville Diagnostic Clinic/MANA
What do you think is the biggest issue facing the healthcare industry in Arkansas today?
Financing healthcare. We are spending significantly more money on healthcare than other countries, but not getting better outcomes. It will be important to work together to develop a sustainable system that meets patients’ needs and is affordable and effective.
What are some of the most significant financial challenges facing hospitals today?
Decreasing revenue and increasing expenses. Sustaining a margin that allows for reinvestment in new services and programs is becoming increasingly difficult. I believe these challenges will continue until changes are made to current healthcare finance models.
How do you work toward improving physician-hospital relations?
With a collaborative working relationship between administrators and physicians. We have physicians on our board of directors, in administrative roles and invite them to be actively involved in everyday operations of the system.
How are you embracing risk and innovation?
One way is by accepting alternative payment models. Nine Washington Regional primary care clinics provide patients with improved access to quality healthcare at lower costs. For patients, this means high-quality primary care and greater affordability.
What new health technologies are you most impressed with?
Earlier this year Washington Regional purchased two portable disinfection systems that use pulsed xenon ultraviolet light to kill germs associated with infection. These disinfecting robots destroy bacteria, viruses, mold and other pathogens in surgery and patient rooms. Plus, just a couple of months ago, our cardiovascular team performed their first transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive technique to replace an aortic heart valve. Previously, patients would need to travel out of the region for the procedure.
Has personnel shortage been an issue for your hospital? If so, how have you addressed it?
Hospitals across the nation are struggling with personnel shortages. Here in northwest Arkansas, there are many more job opportunities in the healthcare industry than there are job applicants. We are addressing this shortage by developing programs that appeal to new graduates to develop the clinical and leadership skill necessary to be a successful partner on our healthcare team. It has been extremely effective at helping us retain the best nurses.