5 Minutes with J.P. Valin, MD, the New President of Medical Groups & Provider Services

jp-valin-md-at-deskProviding primary and specialty care through physician practices is a large and vital component of our health system. Last year, SCL Health created a provider services organization, now officially named Medical Groups & Provider Services, to offer physician management and business services to our more than 500 employed providers. SCL Health recently hired a new senior leader to lead the division.

J.P. Valin, MD, joined the organization on September 12 as President, Medical Groups & Provider Services, reporting to Mike Slubowski, President & CEO. Previously, he worked with Banner Health in Greeley, Colo. where he served in leadership roles since 2006. We recently caught up with Dr. Valin to learn more about his background and goals for this important part of our health system.

What’s your background? Why did you choose to join SCL Health?

“I started off as an internist and moved to Colorado in 2000 to practice in a private, multi-specialty group in a small community. I very quickly got involved in leadership of that medical group, primarily because I wanted to help create a better practice environment and to help colleagues be more effective and efficient in providing care. I’ve worked in both outpatient and inpatient internal medicine, and so have been able to see both sides of the care continuum.

“About six years ago I made the most difficult decision of my life, which was to move away from primarily being a clinical care provider and moving to the administrative side. It was really around the idea of finding ways to make the system work for both physicians and patients and to get people to work more collaboratively to advance patient care. I made the transition to come to SCL Health because I believe in what the organization is trying to do, which is to become an integrated care delivery system and a population health management company. I wanted to be a part of it.”

It’s been about two months since you started with SCL Health. What’s your impression thus far?

“I am really excited by the people here at SCL Health. There is tremendous commitment to doing the right thing for patients to improve care and health – and I see that at every level. It’s clear to me that providers in all of our markets feel it’s their duty to meet the healthcare needs of the community, but I’ve also seen that up through the senior leadership team and the Board of Directors who have a very strong commitment to the mission and values of the organization. It’s been refreshing to see this commitment to patients throughout all levels.”

What’s your vision for Medical Groups and Provider Services? How do you see the division changing over the next several years?

“We’re seeing healthcare move from being inpatient and hospital-centric to providing much more care in the community and ambulatory realm. With this shift, I think our division will grow to provide a higher proportion of care within the system and that our medical groups will continue to grow to meet the shifting needs of patients. Medical Groups and Provider Services is also poised to grow due to what we can offer providers. As a system, we can offer a level of stability as the practice and payment environments become much more complex. My goal is to decrease administrative burden and bureaucratic drag as much as possible to make it easier for our providers to do what they do best—care for patients.”

What will it take for Medical Groups and Provider Services to be successful?

“Today we provide great care across our six medical groups but it is done in a highly variable manner due to different systems, workflows and processes. While that can work for small practice locations, as we continue to grow and build we need to get to a level of clinical, operational and organizational standardization so we can become a highly reliable organization and deliver consistent, high quality, reliable care for every patient. That’s going to require a focus on and identification of best practices from across the system—not just one market or one region or one practice—but from all markets. Each medical group has areas that are already functioning at a high level; now we need to take those best practices and disseminate them. We want to get to a position where we have standardization across our system but where we can allow for market-specific customization as necessary.”

How can we ensure success for our physician practices in such a rapidly shifting environment?

“Healthcare is changing quickly; we have to leverage new care pathways and technology and not get stuck in an older, more traditional model of care. This means we need to recognize what the needs of our patients are, particularly around access to care, and identify how we improve care beyond just the face-to-face, in-office appointment. Telehealth and MyChart are good examples of this. As a key entry point for patients into the system, we also need to position our resources and assets to complement the rest of the organization’s operations.

“We already have a lot of the pieces we need to be successful—most importantly we have highly talented providers who are committed to their patients. As a physician, I appreciate the significance of the work our providers do every day and also the quality of care being provided in this highly complex environment. Our next steps are to shore up our foundation so we can continue to build and move forward.

“Medical Groups and Provider Services is critical to the success of SCL Health as a system, and there’s very strong organizational commitment to our work. We recognize the importance of our medical groups and practices and that it is upon us to help them operate and perform well. I am excited by these challenges and confident that we are going to be a strong part of the organization going forward.”