• Article
  • October 9, 2018

A Leader's Perspective: Bringing the Physician's Viewpoint to the C-Suite

This doctor discusses his transition to leadership.

After touring Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, new CEO Lawrence Moss, M.D., had a chance to meet, and have a catch, with Jeremiah.
After touring Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, new CEO R. Lawrence Moss, M.D., had a chance to meet, and have a catch, with Jeremiah.

Earlier this month, R. Lawrence Moss, M.D., FACS, FAAP, began his tenure as president and CEO of Nemours Children's Health System, in Jacksonville, Florida. Moss brings a wealth of experience to his new post; he practiced as a pediatric surgeon for more than 26 years and has also served as a biomedical researcher, educator and health system executive. 

Children's Hospitals Today caught up with Moss to discuss his transition to senior leadership and some of the challenges he'll face in his new role. Here's an excerpt of that conversation.

Over the course of your career, you've worn a variety of different hats—pediatric surgeon, researcher, educator and executive. How did those experiences prepare you for this next step?

They're all building blocks that will be helpful to me and hopefully helpful to Nemours in this role. Every step of my career has been about helping children and that core value doesn't change. When I was a busy clinical surgeon, I was able to influence one child and family at a time.

Then I became interested in research because I took care of many patients where even the best available care and today's medicine was not good enough; I wanted to participate in the generation of new knowledge to influence kids with problems that we couldn't treat well enough today.

My transition to education was about influencing many, many more folks who could take care of more children than I would ever be able to see. Finally, the leadership and administrative roles have been about influencing systems to make positive changes in the way we perform health care for kids in the United States. That's something I really want to focus on in my time at Nemours.

The transition from physician to the C-suite seems to be a growing trend in pediatric medicine today. What are the primary benefits of having physicians in senior leadership roles?

The value of having physicians in senior leadership is they bring the patient perspective squarely into those roles. At its core, everything we do in health care is about the patient, so it makes sense to me that we want that perspective represented as much as possible at the senior leadership level. 

I'm not suggesting that only physicians have that perspective, but physicians do—and that may be a reason why we're seeing more people transitioning from practicing medicine to leadership roles.

What do you see as some of the primary challenges facing pediatric medicine today?

Number one on that list for me is the uncertain future regarding Medicaid and associated funding to care for children. None of us knows exactly where that's going, and we're all concerned; we need to continue to advocate for a system that puts the needs of children first.

Additionally, we need to develop a system that is based on paying for health rather than paying for treatment of disease. We must align the payment systems in pediatric health care, and health care in general, so the patient and the system both benefit when the patient stays healthy. And we must use as few medical care resources as possible to achieve that health. That's a big step forward.

Another area of change I think is crucial—and one to which I'd really like to contribute—is to have a view of children's health that encompasses health care but is much broader than just the provision of quality medical care. By most measures, the health of children is influenced only about 20 percent by medical care. We've got to get that quality medical care right, and we've got to do that at the highest level.

But we also need to take a more holistic, broader view and pay more attention to the other 80 percent: education, safety, freedom from poverty, intact families and all the other positive things in children's lives. I believe very strongly that children's hospitals need to become the stewards of children's health in our society, not just the providers of medical care.

How do you view Nemours' position as stewards of children's health in our society?

First and foremost would be the scope of our operation. We have over 90 sites in six states, and we have a broad perspective; the children we see come from medically underserved, economically deprived areas to the opposite end of the spectrum, and everything in between. 

I would add that Nemours has an extensive and very effective policy and advocacy office in Washington D.C headed up by Debbie Chang, M.D. We are involved in the national debate regarding health care and in developing services which benefit kids—beyond medical care. Whether that's reading and education, safety, poverty, Nemours is involved in all these key issues affecting children. I hope under my leadership, we will double down on that and make increasingly important and positive impacts.

Nemours' history of having a very broad and global view of children's health very much fits with what I value. I look forward to building on the success of the organization and doing even greater things. 

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