St. Louis Children’s Hospital has a new leader as of Nov. 12, 2018. Mark Shen, MD, MBA, has taken the reins as the new hospital president as Joan Magruder moves out of the role and expands her responsibilities with BJC HealthCare as group president.
Most recently, Dr. Shen was chief executive officer for the Ascension Texas Accountable Care Network and senior vice president of network development at Ascension Texas. He also was the interim chair of pediatrics at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. Prior to those positions, he was president of Dell Children’s Medical Center/Dell Children’s Health in Austin, Texas.
At St. Louis Children’s, Dr. Shen will combine his pediatric clinical background with his operational expertise to improve the patient and family experience, and deliver the best value in care. At Ascension, he built a pediatric clinically integrated network of more than 2,600 providers covering 179,000 lives in risk-based contracts across Medicare and commercial payers in central Texas.
“At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, we offer world-class care in partnership with Washington University physicians,” Dr. Shen says. “What strikes me about the medical staff is, in a word, excellence. There is a commitment and drive to pursue excellence in both everyday outcomes and in driving the future of care. I want to help encourage that and support them in any way possible.”
He continues: “My job is to clear the path to make it easier for our physicians and teams to do what they know how to do. We have a much greater understanding today that world-class care for children is best delivered in teams and programs centered around the needs of the clinical conditions of the patient and family.”
Dr. Shen is determined to find better ways to manage costs of the care system while continuing to provide excellent patient care.
“For the actual St. Louis Children’s Hospital system that includes the hospital and our physician partners, the biggest challenge is about how we create a system of care that is organized, efficient, and delivers the best value to every child and family. It’s a very complex issue that requires a collective approach with our partners in primary care and social services. It takes an entire community to come together to keep children healthy. But it’s an exciting time. We have the ability to redefine how health care is supported and structured in our society. It’s a great task for this generation.”
His first order of business with physicians is to listen and learn. “Physicians can expect that I will be a student and a listener first,” he says. “I want to understand the history of how things were done and the culture. My experience and medical background allows me to understand the concerns of the medical staff and the system-level challenges facing physicians inside and outside the hospital. We collectively need to work to make sure we deliver the best outcomes in the most efficient manner.”
Dr. Shen emphasizes his dedication to physician partners on the hospital’s medical staff, in the community, referring physicians, and those who live around the country. His goal is to offer physicians the resources they need to advance care. He also recognizes everyone has a stake in providing good care to children.
“At St. Louis Children’s, in partnership with Washington University physicians, we’re committed to ensuring that getting patients into our system is as convenient and medically safe as possible,” he says. “So we will be working carefully with our referral partners and our clinical experts to make sure these two conditions are met. I personally want to meet many of the physicians in our community who are referring patients to us. We’re not two pieces of the system, we are one interconnected system.”
St. Louis Children’s Hospital has continued to expand into the community to make care more accessible. In 2017, the hospital opened the Children’s Specialty Care Center in west St. Louis county, along with after-hours clinics. Dr. Shen sees this trend continuing as people’s expectations and needs change.
“There is an important technology piece to this,” he says. “We are developing technology for scheduling and telemedicine. We hope to offer solutions that are end to end so anyone can access the St. Louis Children’s system from wherever they need to, whether from the phone or the ER. So once they are in the system it requires no thought to get where they need to be.”
Dr. Shen is excited to grow relationships to better care for children.
“I promise to have a commitment to do what’s best for every child,” he says. “I will help balance the complexities of administrative operations with what we know as clinicians needs to be done and how to get things right. I want us to be able to navigate the future of health care but also the future of best health for our community and best scientific care for kids who are acutely ill. And we will do it in a way that’s both meaningful to the community and in a way that leads the nation. I’m excited to help us lead the charge.”
Dr. Shen holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, a medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, and a master’s degree in business administration from McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas in Austin.