Etan Walls, COO at Allied Physicians Group, shares insights regarding challenges & top trends in Healthcare IT industry.
Etan started in 2011 as EMR Analyst and now serves Chief Operating Officer for Allied Physicians Group, a premier primary care independent physician group with over 30 locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, as well as, Board Member of the Allied Foundation. In his professional role, Etan is responsible for the internal coordination and implementation of the Allied strategic organizational vision by guiding and leading the internal teams. With over 20 years of technology and project management solutions experience, over 15 within Healthcare, Etan has extensive knowledge of Healthcare policies, procedures and workflows as it relates to ambulatory care.
Sajid Khan: Etan, Thank you very much for taking the time out for this Interview. Can you please begin by sharing your perspective on the role of COO at Allied Physicians Group?
Etan: Thank you Sajid. As any good leader I take the responsibility of piloting the Allied ship seriously. Our captain is our wonderful CEO, Dr. Kerry Fierstein who I have the pleasure to work with on a daily basis. I see my role as being the conduit between all departments and aiding in the strategic vision of the organization. As much as we sometimes get pulled down with day to day activities and putting out the current fire, I always try to connect back the tactical to the strategic.
SK: Would you like to share some of your demanding initiatives at Allied Physicians Group as Chief Operating Officer?
Etan: Allied is an ever-changing organization, shaping the path forward to meet the demands of a new generation of parent which is at the four fronts of our short and long-term initiatives. Whether through diagnostic telemedicine or enhanced patient engagement, we are taking the steps necessary to secure the future for the independent physician group.
SK: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest challenges faced by healthcare services industry for the last couple of years?
Etan: Change is a big challenge within the market and the regulatory market. Adapting to the change of regulatory requirements and being prepared to be ready for the next contract or the next market force impact is the ultimate challenge. Understanding that most news is noise and only reacting to things pragmatically and with a leave approach. Lastly, the shift from fee to service to value has unintended consequences due to systems that were not built for the new reality.
SK: What trends do you see ending their life cycle, what are some trends that you see for the future, for your industry?
Etan: I believe that we will be utilizing more AI in a day to day activities of large RCM operations. This could inevitably shift needs from skilled labor and coding/billing to skilled analysts in interpreting data. The onset of diagnostic telemedicine in the main stream could shift how we deliver care in the next decade.
SK: What has been your greatest achievement in your career thus far?
Etan: Understanding my weaknesses as a leader and being willing to adapt new leadership styles to change my approach has been my biggest achievement. In the first 12 months of my current role, I don’t believe I was a good leader. Since I have shifted my leadership style through training and coaching, I believe I have been much more successful over the last 18 months.
SK: What is your leadership style? Does it vary within the role?
Etan: Empathetic. I try to understand the needs of the individual and put myself into their shoes. I’m fun when I need to be and I am stern when I have too which is a healthy balance. The way I approach each individual circumstance, partner, employee, or direct report varies based upon the situation.
SK: What advice would you offer to our readers who aspire to follow in your footsteps?
Etan: Work hard. The things that will get you there aren’t necessary the things that will keep you there. Learn from others, be willing to change, accept criticism, and always be kind “blue lights installed in restrooms may hinder drug use“.