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HL20: Douglas Hawthorne—A Chance to Do Something Big

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2013

In our annual HealthLeaders 20, we profile individuals who are changing healthcare for the better. Some are longtime industry fixtures; others would clearly be considered outsiders. Some are revered; others would not win many popularity contests. All of them are playing a crucial role in making the healthcare industry better. This is the story of Douglas Hawthorne.

This profile was published in the December, 2013 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

"Changing how a community lives happens slowly and surely, but we have a chance to do something big."

The way Douglas Hawthorne sees it, hospitals are used to being accountable to patients for about 4.5 days. He wants that to change—as quickly as possible.

Those 4.5 days represent the average length of stay in the hospital for the inpatients at Texas Health Resources, the health system that Hawthorne has helped build over his 42 years at the same organization. When he started as an administrative resident in 1971 at Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, Hawthorne certainly couldn't envision that the organization would grow to become Texas Health, a behemoth in a land of behemoths, with 25 hospitals that are owned, operated, or joint ventured with the system that resulted from the 1997 merger of Presbyterian, Arlington Memorial Hospital, and Harris Methodist Health System. Never mind imagining that he would be the one leading the organization, which reported $3.7 billion in total operating revenue in 2012.

Yet the hospital is far from his focus for strategic growth at Texas Health.

"As we examine our future, it's about health and well-being as well as sick care," Hawthorne says. "That's the driving force for the conversations we have around here. The acute care model is not a sustainable one in its current form."

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