Q&A: Texas Health Resources Incoming CEO Talks Strategy

Philip Betbeze, August 1, 2014

After 28 years serving THR in various capacities, most recently as COO, Barclay Berdan says he's ready to take on the strategic challenges of leading the 25-hospital health system.

Arlington-based Texas Health's board conducted a nationwide search, but the man they chose to succeed Hawthorne is a familiar face. Compared to outgoing CEO Doug Hawthorne's standards of longevity, Barclay Berdan is almost a newbie, with only 28 years of experience at the health system.

Barclay Berdan

Barclay Berdan

By almost any other standard, he's a grizzled veteran, who distinguished himself from other finalists thanks to his recent work as senior executive vice president of system alignment and performance, and as chief operating officer for the past two years.

Berdan steps into big shoes. Hawthorne has long been recognized as one of healthcare's visionary leaders, and has built Texas Health from a single standalone hospital into a 25-hospital health system that aspires, either through ownership or partnership, to cover the entire continuum of care.

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Many of the system's strategic decisions have been copied by other health system leaders seeking to transform the way health systems deliver, and how they are paid, for care.

I arranged a quick call when Berdan was named Hawthorne's successor last week to get a sense of where he plans to take the organization, as well as his thoughts about the competitive landscape in healthcare and his thoughts about how to guide Texas Health to a prominent place there. He will take over for Hawthorne officially on Sept. 1.

HealthLeaders: Congratulations on the new job. Or, given the responsibilities that have landed on you, should I say condolences?

Barclay Berdan: No, I'm very happy about it [laughs]. I think congratulations are appropriate.

HealthLeaders: Where were you when you were officially offered the job?

Berdan: That's not a very exciting story, I'm afraid. I was in a conference room in our corporate headquarters.

HealthLeaders: Did you always think you'd eventually be CEO of a health system?

Berdan: I always had it on my list as an opportunity I would like to take advantage of, but I've been so in love with Texas Health, that sort of limited my options. But I'm pleased and delighted the board has asked me to serve in this role going forward. It's a privilege to take over after such a great leader of Doug Hawthorne's stature.

HealthLeaders: During your time at Texas Health and its predecessors [since 1986], have you been offered other CEO jobs?

Pretty frequently I'd get emails from search consultants, but quite frankly, we've had plenty of challenges and opportunities at THR and I don't recall ever returning any of those emails or calls.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.


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