5 Questions with Craig Jensen of Banner Health

5 Questions with Craig Jensen of Banner Health

Craig Jensen, System Director, Banner Health

Alumnus of University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL & MBA from Harvard Business School

Headquartered: Phoenix, AZ

About Banner Health: 23 inpatient hospitals in 7 states


1. What are the biggest challenges in the healthcare industry today?

Dealing with the uncertain changes that are coming. As an industry, we know that we must lower the cost of healthcare – the country cannot afford to have healthcare costs be nearly 20% of GDP.  This means we must figure out how to deliver better healthcare for less money.  The demographic tsunami of baby boomers will make this increasingly difficult. In addition, providing care to those currently insured not only creates pressure on our delivery capacity, but also substantial financial pressure.  We need to develop a better model of healthcare delivery - quickly.

Regardless of what happens in Washington, the insurers (including the government) will increasingly make providers like Banner be at risk for the healthcare costs of its patients.  The rationale is that if we are responsible for all the care, we will find more cost-effective ways of delivering that care or reducing the need for care (necessity is the mother of invention).  That shifts our focus from delivering care more cost-effectively when a patient is sick, to managing a patient's health better so they do not get sick, or as sick.  To do this, we will need more geographic distribution of our services.  Choosing the right services in the right locations at the right time is critical.  If I sound like a retailer – that is how we are thinking now.

Strategy is more important in healthcare than it has ever been – what is the right strategy for our organization to meet these challenges?  Every healthcare provider will have different strategies due to their competencies, vision, financial position and markets.  We need to find and execute the strategy that will best enable us to create our vision.

2. What are the biggest opportunities?

Finding ways to deliver better care and better health to a population while simultaneously lowering the cost provides a huge competitive advantage.  Several factors are important in creating this advantage:

  • Creating critical mass.  Size will matter and provide economies of scale.  We need to choose our partners carefully as we grow to make sure that common values and goals will enable us to achieve these economies of scale.

  • Creating a scalable infrastructure and platform so that we can grow and still deliver the efficiencies needed.

  • Implementing care delivery and health management models that result in consistently better outcomes – healthier patients, higher quality, and more predictable results of treatment when you are sick.

3. If you were giving advice to someone just starting in healthcare (strategic planning, marketing, etc), what advice would you give them?

Get some graduate school level of training in business.  The problems the healthcare industry is facing require more broad business skills than in the past – strategies, mergers & acquisitions, marketing and attracting patients (or members into our insurance products), tight operations management, and improving the quality of your products and services.  These are the types of things that graduate business programs teach, and that training will become very valuable in the future of healthcare.

4. What is the role that patient intelligence plays in your business, and how does it have an impact on the decisions you make?

As we start to think more like retailers, we need to understand our customers (patients) better.  What services do they want, what interactions with them are most effective, where do they want to have access to our services – close to home, close to work, close to mixed-use developments - so they can be more efficient with their time and do multiple things at one stop, etc.

We will then use that information to develop our distribution strategies for physical facilities, our partnerships for services we do not provide, our internet and social media strategies, and our loyalty programs.   Like a retailer, attracting and retaining customers is a key to success.

5. What are you reading now?

I like to read mysteries and am currently reading The Bone Thief by Jackson Bass.  I also recently enjoyed The Hunger Games and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogies.