This past March in Dallas, Texas, AMGA hosted
our 2017 Annual Conference, inviting healthcare
professionals from across the country to immerse themselves in numerous peer-to-peer breakout sessions and
interactive workshops. One of the most highly rated
of these sessions was “The Power of Culture” during
which Warner Thomas, president and CEO, Ochsner
Health System, discussed the organization’s culture
The President and CEO of Ochsner
Health System discusses the organiza-
tion’s culture change journey.
Speaking to a room full of the nation’s prominent
medical professionals and health leaders at the AMGA
2017 Annual Conference, Warner Thomas, president
and CEO of the Louisiana-based Ochsner Health
System, expressed a familiar refrain shared by many of
his conference peers: that change in care delivery is no
longer a hypothetical occurrence set on some distant
horizon—it is already racing beneath the feet of the
entire patient/provider community.
These changes are coming in the form of value-
Focus on the Why versus the What
based care, higher out-of-pocket costs for patients, new
insurance exchanges, and our increasing connectivity
through new technology and the internet. In fact, there
have been more telemedicine consults done in the past
six months than there were in the previous 10 years.
Thomas said the pace of all these transformations
is only accelerating, arguing that to overcome these
challenges, the leaders of health systems and medical
groups all across the country need to reevaluate—if
they haven’t already—the internal culture of their
Ochsner’s culture change journey began in 2012
when Thomas first assumed the role of CEO. “I spent
a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do differently in the organization, where I wanted to go with
the organization, and how we could build on what
was done but also go in a different direction,” he said.
“As the first non-physician leader of the organization, I
knew I needed to get this right.
“We had a physician retreat about 20 days after
I took over. We were in a room not unlike this and I
kind of laid out what I thought was going on in the
environment and the goals I had regarding where I
wanted the organization to go in the next five years.
… And it didn’t go very well. Nobody left. They were
polite, but I just could feel it didn’t go well. And I
really reflected on that a lot, especially over the next
The Power of Culture
Overcoming the Challenges of Change
at Ochsner Health System