What They’re Watching: Gary Kaplan, Virginia Mason

Gary Kaplan has been the Chief Executive Officer of Virginia Mason since 2000. Under his leadership, Virginia Mason has received national and international recognition as a leader in health care. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss staying true to your mission.

As a health system CEO, my very first priority has to be ensuring that our organization stays true to our mission and our vision, that I’m attending to the needs of Virginia Mason, and ensuring that we are on a path to stay healthy and to continue to attract the very best people so that we can do what we’re really all about, which is take care of patients and families. So I spend a lot of time thinking about how to ensure that that happens in a very dynamic, competitive marketplace. And for us, that means doubling down really on quality, safety, patient experience, the things that we know can be accomplished. And we found actually that the pathway to higher quality, safer care can be the same pathway to lower cost. So that’s you know one kind of bucket.

And then I think the national and regional scene is pretty compelling these days, pretty engaging. I mean not necessary in a good way, but I think we have to be vigilant. I think we are seeing a pendulum swing that may not be in the best interests of our patients and communities, primarily driven at the federal level. I think our state has actually done a pretty good job of moving the ball down the field in terms of creating higher value and helping to provide leadership to the overall sector. But I think staying vigilant, staying engaged, trying as difficult and challenging as it may be these days to have influence, those are things to spend time on.