Lilly exec addresses three tough leadership challenges

As a physician leader who has overseen multiple large-scale healthcare systems, Ora Pescovitz, M.D., says her approach to major decisions always puts patients first.

"I always put our patients first, followed closely by our organization and the people who work for us. All three are in close proximity -- and all three are vitally important to protect," said Pescovitz, who is Eli Lilly and Company's Senior Vice President and U.S. Medical Leader.

Pescovitz is a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher who has published nearly 200 papers and books. In addition to her work at Lilly, she serves as an adjunct professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. But Pescovitz’s contributions to IU and IU Health extend beyond her roles as clinician and researcher.

She provided leadership to both organizations for21 years, including CEO of Riley Hospital for Children, Interim Vice President for Research at IU and Executive Associate Dean for Research and Director of Pediatric Endocrinology at the IU School of Medicine.

Prior to her position at Lilly, Pescovitz spent five years at the University of Michigan, where she was the first female Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Health System CEO. That system is comprised of three hospitals, more than 120 health centers and clinics and the University of Michigan Medical School. In that role, she was responsible for $3.3 billion in revenue, $466 million in research, 1.9 million visits and 45,000 hospital stays.

I believe physician leaders are important and valuable, because they appreciate all sides of an issue.

Ora Pescovitz, M.D., Eli Lilly and Company’s Senior Vice President and U.S. Medical Leader

“They can see the challenges from the perspective of patients, providers, advocates and payers, too," explained Pescovitz. "They see it from all angles."

Pescovitz shared this perspective with physician MBA students and alumni during a special presentation on the IUPUI campus. In her talk, “Challenging Case Studies from the Front Lines of Patient Care,” she walked through three tough leadership challenges and noted the six principles she uses to make decisions. Through these case studies, she also showed the vital importance of physician leaders in today’s complex healthcare environment.

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Ora Pescovitz, M.D., presents to Physician MBA students and alumni in January, 2017.

This talk is part of the Kelley Business of Medicine Physician MBA Class of 2016 Lecture Series, which was created with a gift from all members of the Class of 2016.

“Personally, I’m thrilled with the career I’ve had, but if there’s one thing I wish I had done differently in my own training, it’s that I wish I had gotten an MBA,” Pescovitz says.

“One issue has been—until programs like the Kelley Physician MBA —physician leaders were not skilled at managing the administrative side of healthcare. They didn’t know how to read a P and L statement; they didn’t know how to run systems, and they didn’t understand inner workings of hospitals, practices and health groups. They didn’t know how to speak the language. So they were left out of much of the decision-making,” she said.

The fact that students in the Kelley Business of Medicine Physician MBA Program are getting didactic training in business principles will serve them well.

Ora Pescovitz, M.D., Eli Lilly and Company’s Senior Vice President and U.S. Medical Leader