HEALTHCARE LEADERS: Kevin M. Spiegel – CEO Methodist University Hospital
HEALTHCARE LEADERS: Kevin M. Spiegel – CEO Methodist University Hospital | Methodist University Hospital, Columbia University affiliation, Center of Excellence in cardiac care, Kevin Spiegel

Kevin Spiegel joined Methodist University Hospital in March 2008 to help evolve the system in the rapidly changing world of healthcare. Since taking on the role as senior vice president and CEO of the hospital, he has ambitiously executed goals to expand the collaboration abilities of the hospital – including garnering an affiliation with Columbia University Medical Center’s Heartsourcesm to establish a Methodist University Hospital cardiothoracic surgery and cardiology quality assurance program. Methodist has also received center of excellence recognition for stroke and cardiac care, excellence in transplantation, and the robotic surgery program reached its 100th case.

He is board-certified in healthcare administration and a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Prior to joining Methodist Healthcare, Spiegel served as president and chief operating officer of Trumbull Memorial Hospital, a 350-bed tertiary hospital in Ohio and has years of experience in the New York public and academic hospital systems.

What brought you to Methodist University Hospital?

I really missed academic medicine. I saw the challenges of how do you effectively bring some of the cultures together – how do you bring the University of Tennessee together with us? That was something I really saw and then when you meet Gary Shorb, it’s all over. He’s probably the most dynamic healthcare executive running a hospital in the United States today. That is one of the things that really drove me to come here, the ability to work with him and the rest of the team. Methodist as an organization is what I really wanted to be a part of and over the last two years, that opportunity and commitment has only been stronger. 

I think one of the things that differentiates us is a clear partnership that is absolutely demonstrated by the University of Tennessee and Methodist. We’re coming together hand in hand to address these issues together.

What are some of the accomplishments at Methodist that make you proud?

Robotic surgery- We’re one of five hospitals in the country that do skull-based head and neck surgery robotically. It was normally a 10-12 hour surgery with a three-week recovery time. We’re now able to do it in about 30 minutes and length of stay is about three days. We’ve totally revolutionized that surgery. 

Transplant program-Our transplant program had a world record year on liver and kidney. They had the most number of kidneys ever in the history of the program. We really have stepped up that program quite a bit and we’re proud of that. 

Columbia affiliation-We knew there was opportunity to be a world class cardiac surgery center. The top program that really stands out and has done that before is Columbia. They also evaluated us and in that found that there was a medical school. They were really looking for that match.

Joint Commission-We did something that is not typical of hospitals in the United States. We invited the Joint Commission here and we asked them to evaluate our programs and they came out with a certification. We have certificates of distinction for our acute MI program and as a primary stroke center. This is the highest level of certification you can achieve in this country for these programs. What makes these programs special is how quick we turn patients around. If you have a heart attack and come here, you can be in a cath lab and have your heart reperfused in less than 90 minutes. We have been doing that the last 16 months at 100 percent. 

What are your views on where the healthcare industry is going?

I do believe the reimbursement on a going forward basis is going to be very difficult for your doctor in the corner, as well as the academic hospitals. It’s going to be very challenging in some rural communities. It’s going to be very hard for federal and state governments to be able to continue to fund when their coffers are dwindling. I think everybody agrees that healthcare is very important, but at some point, can we afford it? The country’s gross national product is declining and the healthcare expenses are increasing. I believe you can enhance the care that you provide to the uninsured and do it in a more cost effective manner. I think all of us need to be committed to removing some of the waste in the system and think of the patient. It’s about, ‘how do we enhance that experience for the patient in a way that differentiates you and the people in the city of Memphis to get the best possible care?’

What is on the agenda for the future?

We had the real infrastructure but how did we take it to the next level? Our goal in cardiac care was to be one of the top 100 programs in the United States and Columbia University believed that was realistic. The next goal after that is to be in the top 50. We’re the top 10 in transplantation. To be average is not good enough. 

You have to really have that quest in the things you do whether it’s GI surgery or a cancer center. We have a lot of balls in the air. We’re doing a lot of things but truthfully, we’re really excited about all the things we’re doing and we’re not stopping.

This is only the beginning. What is the future of universities and academic medicine? It’s going to be significantly enhanced over time.  The academic presence, the strength of the alliance with UTHSC, the growth in real tertiary specialties is only going to be enhanced.