Chief executive officer of Heritage Medical Group
Q: What kind of health care reform are you looking for at the state level?
A: There is a bill in the (Pennsylvania) Legislature now that would be a form of loan forgiveness for physicians who train in medicine in Pennsylvania. If (physicians) would, upon graduation, remain in Pennsylvania, they could see a part or some of their educational loans forgiven over time. … People come to train here, and it’s a shame, but they don’t stay here.
Q: How is Heritage looking to expand?
A: Our first priority is to increase access to care. And here, we’re talking specifically about access to family medicine and internal medicine. So we’re going to be looking to see if we can bring physicians into the Heritage model that are family-medicine physicians and internal-medicine physicians. We added two this year.
Q: What other changes are you making at Heritage?
A: We know that taking care of chronic-care patients really requires a team approach.
We’re going to try to adopt an approach that’s called the medical home – it’s more of a team approach, but it’s still physician-led. What we’ve learned from patients with chronic disease is that they require more help than just an acute-care episode like the flu. These are people who need nutritional counseling, and they would benefit from education about their own disease. They would benefit from sometimes various other forms of psychosocial support. And so we’re going to pilot this – and we’re not the first to do it – but we’re going to use this at one of our offices soon.
Q: Tell me about your use of the hospitalist model.
A: We’ve just started a hospitalist program in September 2008, and we have partnered with (PinnacleHealth System) at Harrisburg Hospital to do this. In this new way of delivering care, Heritage physicians and mid-levels – we have both a physician assistant and a nurse practitioner – they don’t have an office to go to. When our hospitalists go to work, they go to the hospital … and they provide all of the medical care that that patient needs while they’re in the hospital. This is answering a problem, which is the problem of fragmented care. If you’ve ever been in a hospital yourself, or if you’ve ever had your mother or father in the hospital, there are times when you wonder, “Who’s in charge?” And the hospitalist model answers that question. The hospitalist position is in control and is coordinating all of the care that is being provided to that patient. We can avoid unnecessary, duplicative tests being done, being ordered by different people. We can make their stay in the hospital as efficient as possible.
Q: What’s your favorite quote?
A: This is something people see when they visit the office. The sign reads, “Heritage Medical Group: Less past, more future.”
About Thomas Wright
A native of northern California, Thomas Wright, 58, has been chief executive officer of Heritage Medical Group for more than two years.
Before coming to Pennsylvania, Wright was vice president, strategy and business development for Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, and vice president/business development for Enloe Health System in Chico, Calif.
He holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Wright lives in Camp Hill with his wife, Pamela. His daughter, Robin, attends Willamette University in Oregon. In his spare time, he dabbles in vintage sports cars. He restored a Morgan 4/4, a famous British sports car.