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HL20: Patrick J. Quinlan, MD—Reducing the Disease Load

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2011

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 Patrick J. Quinlan, MD.

This profile was published in the December, 2011 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

 "We recognize that the major driver for these problems is lifestyle. It’s a set of behaviors learned early on and is a part of the family history—the behaviors are contagious. "

When you hear the personal philosophies of Patrick J. Quinlan, MD, CEO at Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, it's clear why Change the Kids, Change the Future is a program created and championed by his organization. Quinlan believes the path to happiness is found by helping others and that everyone needs "a prepared mind and healthy body to be poised for success." That is why back in 2001 after he looked at some staggering state health statistics, he and his executive team set out to improve the health and wellness of the entire community—starting with the children.

"I'm very concerned about the wrong turn healthcare reform has taken. It's put our focus on expenditures," he says. "We need to focus on reducing the disease load. If we look at those individuals that have particular risks, we recognize that the major driver for these problems is lifestyle. It's a set of behaviors learned early on and is a part of the family history—the behaviors are contagious."

With the hospital already treating scores of patients with chronic conditions and the likelihood of more in the future, Quinlan asked his executive team to look at the problem during an executive retreat. The team acknowledged that working with adult patients with these problems was insufficient to solve the problem, just treating the symptom.

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