Moving Toward Something That Doesn’t Yet Exist
John Stark had 20 years with the University of Iowa Health Care before he was tapped to be part of the Iowa team joining the inaugural MHCDS class at Dartmouth. With a finance and business administration background, Stark had risen out of food production and procurement and food purchasing to a key job directing the system’s anesthesia department. “It was a challenging, significant area,” he recalls. “High levels of expenses, revenues, faculty positions, total personnel. Anesthesia touches everyone. It gave me a broad exposure to the institution.”
At the same time, recognizing the changing healthcare environment, the administration decided it needed to create a core group of resources to help approach new challenges in a very different way — and to do that it needed a group of managers and strategic thinkers who could work together beyond the daily, focused pressures and needs of individual departments. Stark was sent through the Dartmouth program not to learn how to better manage in today’s environment, he says, but to move that environment toward something more efficient that didn’t yet exist.
In the MHCDS program Stark was exposed to entirely new ways of looking at costs and revenues and patient experiences. He learned skills that added to his background in finance: how to read and understand medical literature, how to collect critical data, how to think in the language of context and strategy. The experience made him a better communicator and advocate — and a better leader. In April of 2013 he was promoted to a newly-created position of Associate Director for Interventional Services, where he oversees a cross-disciplinary area that includes anesthesia, the operating rooms, all surgical departments, and the neurosciences. Part of his new charge is to help restructure, bridge, and align the traditionally separated twin pillars of the system, the academic and hospital sides.