Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association

Executive Insights Webinar Series: A new system, a new normal

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Dr. Kevin Tabb was raised in Berkeley, California, attended medical school in Israel, and eventually found his way to Boston ten years ago as the leader of a major academic medical center.  

Dr. Tabb, now the president and CEO of the state’s newest and second-largest system – Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH) – joined MHA’s Steve Walsh for the association’s latest Executive Insights episode. He explained what it has been like observing the local healthcare community over the decade, saying “for anybody that really cares about healthcare and wants to affect significant change, the Massachusetts, the greater Boston area, is the Mecca for healthcare.”

Dr. Tabb was at the center of the BILH launch and has overseen the integration of the system, even as most of its existence has been through the greatest public health crisis in generations. 

Still, the system had a runway as the merger was approved by the state. “That long period of time was used to prepare for the planning and new structure to ensure the success of integration of the new organization,” he explained.

So, just a few years into the BILH’s service to patients, how will success be measured?

“The thing that I think is the single most important thing, the way that we will know that this merger was successful is if our patients tell us, we have made a difference in their lives,” said Dr. Tabb. “And I feel very strongly that we need to be asking people what it is that makes a difference in their lives and focus on those things.” 

Of course, the COVID-19 experience has played a part in the organization’s development.

“I think for all of us if there’s a lesson that we need to take away from the pandemic it’s that we need to be prepared for the unexpected and its fine, it’s important, to lay out plans for all of the things that we know are going to happen. But it is least as important to create a system that’s resilient able to shift, able to change, able to also accommodate things that we may not expect now.”

Dr. Tabb closed the Executive Insights session by sharing some advice on finding success in the healthcare field. 

“If there’s anything I could recommend to people it would be to try a host of different experiences, even if they appear off track,” he reflected. “It’s actually the diversity of experiences in different roles in different places that make up your entirety of experience and being willing and open to try different types of things is ultimately, I think what makes for better leaders.”

Watch the full episode here.

Stream all Executive Insights Series episodes here.