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Sector Insights

by Suhail Mirza


Healthcare Leadership: Mike Neeb CEO Of HCA International

In this post Mike Neeb, chief executive of HCA International, talks to Alium’s Head of Practice for Healthcare, Suhail Mirza, about his vision for personalised medicine and partnering with the NHS. If you operate in the healthcare sector read on for more on this leading healthcare provider.

This year is one of anniversaries for Mike Neeb; he celebrates his 25th year with HCA and his tenth as chief executive of HCA International, which owns six leading private hospitals in London including the Portland, Wellington and London Bridge.

The parent company, HCA Inc, is a Fortune 100 company headquartered in Nashville Tennessee. It is the largest healthcare provider in the world touching 21 million lives each year. With a market capitalisation close to $30bn and revenue of circa $40bn, it operates 165 hospitals and 115 free standing surgery centres across the US and England.

Business Vision Central To Success

In 1989, world renowned business school scholars, CK Prahalad and Gary Hamel, published a seminal article entitled Strategic Intent in the Harvard Business Review; its essential message was that great companies had a defining vision or purpose that acted as the foundation for continued efforts to improve and innovate and move beyond current capabilities and paradigms.

Meeting with Mike, it is clear that vision is central to the HCA success story, which began almost half a century ago in 1968.

‘Two of our founders were physicians and putting patients first is at the heart of all that we undertake every single day. Indeed the son of one of the founders, Thomas F Frist III, remains an independent director on our parent company board and the spirit of our founders flourishes to this day. HCA typically invests about $1.5bn to $2bn annually to keep our facilities, technology and range of services the best that patients can expect anywhere.’

A continued commitment to this founding vision runs throughout HCA and has helped to ensure that values and ethics, rather than slogans, are the driving principles. In 2014, HCA was recognised as one of the ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’ for the fifth year in a row by The Ethisphere Institute, the New York-based think tank dedicated to the sharing of best practice in business ethics and corporate social responsibility.

Interestingly, Mike has always had a personal affinity with healthcare. ‘Whilst I qualified as an accountant, I had originally sought to study medicine. My wife has a graduate degree in speech therapy. My passion for how business can marshal creative platforms to improve the quality of human life has never left me,’ he says.

HCA is distinctive as a private acute provider in its focus on offering complex care provision to its patients. This includes breakthrough cancer treatments as well as specialist paediatric surgery units, advanced neurological units to help patient outcomes in stroke and trauma and level 3 intensive care units.

‘In so many areas of acute and tertiary medicine, in cancer and cardiac for example, we are able to deliver the complete pathway of care for patients of every age in the best equipped hospitals in the country; a truly unique achievement in the UK private sector,’ says Mike.

Innovation In The UK Private Healthcare Sector

I ask Mike to share his insights into the facilities HCA offers patients in cancer treatment and also how joint ventures with the NHS and a philosophy of innovation brings benefits to the UK health economy.

‘We are the only private hospital company in the UK to specialise in complex and acute medical conditions. We were, for example, the first to introduce Cyberknife technology to the UK which offers a non-invasive treatment option for previously inoperable tumours. Our Princess Grace Hospital also launched a pioneering cancer treatment in the form of the NanoKnife for tumours of the lungs, kidney and liver,’ he says.

Part of HCA’s unique contribution to patients is the work undertaken by its Sarah Cannon Research Institute UK which is the first trials unit outside the NHS with the ability to offer new anti-cancer drugs in human clinical trials.

‘The Institute offers precision medicine for cancer patients and this comprises targeted therapies that are not only directed towards the cancer cell but a specific alteration within the can-cer cell. This is part of our personalised medicine initiative and helps to better understand patients’ cancer behaviour,’ Mike explains.

The Institute has more than 1,000 partner physicians across the US and UK and has published more than 50 peer reviewed research articles in oncology journals. Patients have benefitted from better than national average five-year survival rates and it is little wonder that over 95% of patients view HCA’s quality of care as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.

Collaborating With The NHS

HCA has also developed successful joint venture partnerships, through its HCA Joint Ventures branch, with leading NHS Trusts in order to enhance cancer services.

‘Our first venture was with UCLH in 2006 and this lead to the establishment of Harley Street at UCH which is a complex cancer centre specialising in complex sarcoma, head and neck and haematological cancers,’ says Mike.

Since then, there have been further collaborations. The Harley Street at UCH service was extended in 2010 with a new centre based at the Queen’s Hospital in Romford. HCA then created a partnership with The Christie NHS Foundation Trust opening the Christie Clinic in September 2010. The Christie is a European cancer centre which houses the world’s largest early clinical trials unit. And Mike is proud that this dedicated cancer centre offers access to world class medical professionals for HCA patients.

‘From the beginning we have had a clear objective; to become a true partner with each NHS trust we work with and do so in a way that allows our partners to benefit from the significant new funding earned from providing world class care for private patients.’

According to Mike, these initiatives add value to all stakeholders in the UK health system.

‘Our joint ventures increase competition, they increase choice for patients and they frequently provide new diagnostic and treatment technology and funds that directly benefit NHS patients and taxpayers.

Simply put, the complex cancer treatment we provide to patients is a direct saving to the NHS to whom these patients may otherwise have turned,’ he says.

Indeed, HCA’s vision to contribute to securing better health for everyone goes beyond simply a question of funding.

In 2011, it acquired Health Trust Europe. This began as a collaborative procurement hub within the NHS and offers its purchasing know-how to over 400 private and public sector organisations in the UK. Its leadership team has delivered significant savings to the public purse at a time which could hardly be more critical.

Partnerships In The Healthcare Community

A more recent example of HCA’s involvement in the wider healthcare community is its involvement in the Manchester Institute of Health and Performance (MIHP). Six years in the planning, MIHP has been developed by a partnership team involving City Football Group, Sport England and Manchester City Council to provide cutting edge facilities to both elite athletes and local community residents. HCA has been chosen as the operating partner.

Mike says: ‘Research is at the heart of MIHP and we are committed through our research laboratories to share global learning and promote awareness of health issues. I am excited that this will ultimately make a contribution to the greater health of the whole community now and in the future.’

This article was first published in Healthcare Market News and we hope provides some insights into the minds of leaders in the healthcare sector. If you would like to contribute your thoughts on any of the topics covered in this article, please leave a comment below.

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About the Author

Suhail Mirza

Suhail brings a unique level of insight and business experience to the challenging health and health care market. This insight and Alium's ability to source the best people this industry and wider will help enable the many changes needed across this industry. Suhail works with leading healthcare providers across both the NHS and private health market, delivering the right experts and team resources by accessing our comprehensive health talent pool.

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