Leading the Sisters’ Mission

by Shelli Dankoff
OSF HealthCare

Bob Sehring is the new Chief Executive Officer at OSF HealthCare, taking over for Kevin Schoeplein, who retired in October. Sehring joined OSF in 2002, serving in a number of leadership roles, including CEO of OSF HealthPlans, CEO of Ambulatory Services, Central Region CEO, and mostly recently, Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining OSF, he held various executive positions with Aetna, New York Life and Metropolitan Life Insurance. We sat down with him to talk about what lies ahead in the ever-changing world of healthcare—and how he will draw on his years of leadership experience to navigate the challenges.

You have served in a number of leadership positions at OSF HealthCare, including over ambulatory services. Has that helped as you move into the chief executive office?
The biggest benefit was the collaboration and really putting the patient at the center. In the past, sometimes we would have the hospital at the center or the physician at the center, but we have worked hard to move away from that approach and ensure that we have the patient at the center. That was really a lot of the work around ambulatory services—that patient focus, and then coupling it with workforce engagement. How do we ensure that our mission partners are equally engaged, that they feel supported, that they have the resources they need to be able to meet the patients where they are and provide the services they need.

OSF HealthCare has grown during your time here. Is consolidation of healthcare systems and services expanding?
Being good stewards of our resources is a challenge that we all embrace, looking at how we best meet the needs of the patients, and how do we do so efficiently and effectively. Obviously everyone wants to provide the highest level of quality care; we do that day in and day out across our ministry, but you also have to look at being able to provide that effectively and efficiently.

This has not led us to pursue growth just for growth’s sake. When I started with OSF, we were five hospitals and about 8,000 employees. It will soon be 13 hospitals and more than 20,000 mission partners. That is significant growth in 16 years. But it's always been connected growth that made sense not only from a business standpoint, but more importantly, from a mission standpoint. These were communities that we felt we were being called to serve. We will likely continue to grow given the environment, but it will always be with an eye toward the right strategic growth.

What are some of the other challenges faced by OSF HealthCare?
I would say one of the biggest challenges is uncertainty. There's always ambiguity in any business, and healthcare is certainly one that has experienced a great deal of ambiguity over the years. But the uncertainty surrounding the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid structure and funding are recent challenges we are acutely aware of. As we look forward, we certainly look to our state and federal leaders to work collaboratively to develop and improve the programs that best support those that are in the greatest need: the underserved areas in communities. It’s about doing more for those with less in all communities. We are part of their support system and have always provided care without regard to their ability to pay. We’d certainly like to be collaborative partners with both the state and federal governments in the effort to provide that care.

Are you excited about this opportunity?
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead an organization like OSF. The Sisters’ mission is my touchstone, in addition to the Sisters themselves, coupled with a fantastic leadership team—it really is a wonderful group of leaders across this ministry. So having that opportunity to help lead, help direct, help shape our future over the next years is a wonderful opportunity that I'm looking forward to. iBi

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