Scott Tromanhauser, MD, MBA, MHCDS ‘16
Chief Medical Quality Officer and Chief, Spine Surgery Section, New England Baptist Hospital
“The days of saying you are great are over,” says Scott Tromanhauser. “Now you have to prove you are great—and prove you are cost-effective.” This is Tromanhauser’s job as Chief Medical Quality Officer at Boston’s New England Baptist Hospital—a job made more difficult by hospitals consolidating networks and solidifying primary-care partnerships. These developments have forced NEBH to fight for new patients, even with its reputation for offering among the highest-quality and lowest-cost orthopedic care in the Boston area. “We’ve been seeing volume increases every year, but our margins are getting lower because we are seeing an increasing percentage of Medicare patients,” says Tromanhauser.
Tromanhauser hopes to reverse this through his position in hospital administration, a new role for the doctor who spent 25 years as a spine surgeon. While looking for new challenges several years ago, he was asked to take on a job as medical director of the hospital’s orthopedic spine program, where he was introduced to the world of hospital operations. “I was sitting in on high-level meetings and there was stuff I just didn’t understand about hospital financing and negotiating contracts with payers,” he says. “As a physician, you only have the most superficial understanding of what the hospital does.”
Tromanhauser received his MBA from Northeastern University in 2001, back when he had helped found a medical device startup. “I learned a lot, but it was not medically focused at all,” he says. When he discovered Dartmouth’s Master of Health Care Delivery Science program, a light went off. “It had all the stuff my MBA program didn’t have. It’s what I wished my MBA program was, but didn’t know it at the time.”
In addition to learning the ins and outs of financing and insurance, Tromanhauser today has a better appreciation of the broader questions of hospital strategy. “I’m getting a course in thinking in a more systems-based approach, and solving these problems in non-traditional ways,” he says. The program has also helped him develop leadership and negotiation skills he hopes will help him in his ultimate goal. “This is an orthopedic specialty hospital, but we’ve never really had an orthopedic surgeon as CEO,” he says. “I think this program will help get me to the top.”