Health systems are ‘all chasing the same staff’ to fill roles, UHS CEO says


Modern Healthcare reporters take a deep dive with leaders in the industry who are standing out and making a difference in their organization or their field. We hear from Marc Miller, president and CEO of Universal Health Services, as he discusses the health system’s recent partnership with General Catalyst and its push to increase access to behavioral healthcare.

Universal Health Services recently announced a partnership with venture capital firm General Catalyst. Why did you think this was a necessary action to take?

General Catalyst has made it a priority in the last five to seven years to utilize a lot of its skill set to try and bring improvements to healthcare, specifically in behavioral health and mental health. It was a natural for us [to partner]. We started to speak with its team years ago to try and see what things we could do [together] as they try to be as innovative as they can in a sector that has lacked innovation in the past.

How much disruption needs to happen through these kinds of external partnerships?

A tremendous amount, because it’s obvious that without the outside expertise coming in, we’re not going to do it ourselves. In the healthcare sector and in the hospital industry, we’ve made small steps over many years. But to really advance [innovation] in a way that we want, we need outside help.

For us, it’s a lot more about catching up to a base level, as opposed to [seeing] significant disruption.

UHS’ behavioral health footprint spans 39 states, plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. What strategies has the system taken to increase access to behavioral care?

We can’t be everywhere physically. That’s why some of our other efforts, such as telehealth, are so key and are growing. We’ve had telehealth operations now for over 20 years, but we continue to try and double down on those efforts. We’re partnering with more folks that are improving tele-opportunities for behavioral health. This includes General Catalyst, which is doing some great things with technology and telehealth.

In addition, we’re trying to partner with some of the largest nonprofit acute care systems in the country to see how we can work with them and try to alleviate some of the stressors that they’ve had on the behavioral side. These may be things that maybe they’re not as equipped to do on their own. This may involve working with current operations, building new hospitals in their communities or just trying to find areas of need where we can be helpful.

Given your significant behavioral health presence in the U.K., how does the market there compare with that of the United States?

They’re vastly different, as you can imagine. What happens in the U.K. is just night and day from what we have in the United States, both in acute care and the behavioral health space. On the behavioral health side, the government has looked for outside operators, such as ourselves, to come in and help.

One of the other biggest differences is that there are many long-stay patients in the U.K., whereas we don’t have that here. Our length of stay in the United States can be as low as five days, whereas there are many situations in the U.K. in which we have patients that have been in a facility for a year or two. The way we treat the relationship with the patient is a lot different in that scenario.


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