Tampa Bay's biggest health care providers collaborate – Tampa Bay Business Journal – The Business Journals

Ravi Chari is a clinician at heart. But he found the business side of health care later in his career, driven by a search for answers to barriers to quality care. With 14 years of service at HCA Healthcare, he’s been in Tampa Bay for about five years. Chari spent most of his career in Nashville, Tennessee, where, before HCA, he spent 17 years at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
HCA (NYSE: HCA) is investing millions in its facilities under Chari’s watchful eye, including $82 million for its new Hospital for Endocrine Surgery in Hudson and HCA Florida Bayonet Point Hospital, where it is building a comprehensive medical rehabilitation center.
HCA recently announced that more than 450 affiliated care sites have united under one statewide brand, HCA Florida Healthcare. This brought together 11,000 physicians, 77,000 caregivers, 49 hospitals and over 450 total areas of care under its new name and logo.
Both of your parents were physicians. What else fueled your career fire? I really loved the idea of science, data analysis and experimentation. All of those things were always fascinating for me. Underneath that was, how do things work? I took apart my dad’s SLR camera and was not able to put it back together again, rendering it useless. But I was trying, and that was an experiment that failed. Another reason was that I love being around people and helping people. 
You have performed roughly 400 liver transplants and 1,500 other surgical procedures. How does that experience manifest in your business role? Transplantation is a story in and of itself in medicine in that we had to create a way to engage with society at the policy level, an organizational level and the logistics level. At the same time, there’s a component where, while it’s system-based and very centered around how we get that organ from one person who’s generously given the gift of life to another, we still have to care for that individual. But the choices you make have to be made in the context of the resources and the consideration of the outcomes. [The discipline has] been in all different spaces about appropriateness, allocation of care, cost models and cost provisions. Transplantation has always been at the forefront of how you actually think about organizing and delivering care in the context of society. 
You have played a key role in the evolving collaboration among Tampa Bay’s largest health systems. It has origins pre-Covid. Tell us about it. Credit goes to [Baycare CEO] Tommy Inzina. In the fall of 2018, he called me and said, ‘Hey, I think we need to be doing more as it pertains to access, destigmatization and navigation through the myriad of options in behavioral health and mental health services. And so do you think we should do something?’ He convened a bunch of people in the spring of ’19. We came forward in the summer of ’19 and created an organization called West Central for Behavioral Health Coalition, now known as Tampa Bay Thrives. 
Did that lead to broader thinking? We created an environment where we each have our own business, we each have our own focus, and we always have our own culture, our philosophy. All of those things exist. And yet still at a higher level, there can be something that communities can benefit from the collaboration of large health systems and others. So with that done, there was a basis for a relationship. 
Then came Covid. How did that impact this collaboration? It was the 28th or 29th of February of 2020, and we had just gotten a notice from one of our hospitals that they may have the first patient with Covid in the whole state. Even before that test came back, I texted [Tampa General CEO] John Couris and Tommy, and I said, ‘This Covid thing might be real; we need to get together. Because if what they’re saying is true, we’re going to need each other to be able to respond and support our community.’
Can you get more specific about the results of the teamwork? We created the first data sharing in the region to see and understand what was going on. The other systems have — and we do now — also have urgent care data. It shows what is going on in the community before it gets to the hospitals. There are some things that we know transcend our individual interests as health care systems that represent a higher calling as it comes to serving our communities.
Is the collaboration leading to new business and better business practices? I think it is unique, the way we said we were going to make sure we wanted to coordinate care and support each other. From sharing the burden of the patients that the surgeons went through and working with local EMS — all the ways that we could be responsive in the community, representing the best of what we need to do. We certainly are unaware of any other large metropolitan area in America that has done that. 
The company is investing millions around Tampa Bay and statewide. Tell us the rationale. We’ve got to be able to be responsible and increase our access points for communities. Our hospital for endocrine surgery — what a fantastic resource that is for this community. It’s 75,000 square feet of renovated space we’re bringing to this community. It is a service that’s local, and lots of people will travel across the globe to get that care from those exceptional physicians. 
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