Q&A with Tom Beeman
Tom Beeman, Penn Medicine Chief Operating Officer for Regional Operations
Tom Beeman, former President & CEO of Lancaster General Health, has served as Penn Medicine’s Chief Operating Officer for Regional Operations since 2015. We asked Beeman about his current role, what LG Health’s membership in Penn Medicine means for local physicians and his outlook on the future.
Tell us about your role with Regional Operations.
I help to make the integration of our new partners go as smoothly as possible. Any time there is a blending of organizations, it can be challenging initially to work together and create an enriched culture.
I also have the opportunity to help influence and work with my colleagues throughout the health system on a number of critical initiatives, including primary care, trauma and care continuity.
Why is the partnership a good fit for both Penn and LG Health?
The affiliation with Penn gives LG Health access to one of the largest and most respected research and education organizations in the country, and the highest quality of clinical care for local patients. This helps LG Health attract and retain the best providers to our region.
LG Health was attractive to Penn because of the high quality of clinical care and competencies of our providers. Penn is a learning organization. They didn’t enter into this partnership because they think they know everything. Penn wants to learn from LG Health as much as LG Health can learn from Penn. For example, LG Health was the first in the health system to adopt Epic. LG Health’s experience there has helped inform Penn’s efforts to deploy Epic to the rest of the health system.
How does the partnership better position LG Health for the future?
Coming together allows us to leverage our size, competencies and locations to serve a broader population. It doesn’t matter if there is a Democrat or a Republican in the White House. Being a certain size allows us to share costs, use our resources more efficiently and share what we have all learned at the bedsides of the communities we serve.
How has LG Health’s integration gone so far?
As CEO of LG Health for 11 years, I enjoyed that autonomy. Any time organizations come together, there will be growing pains. You have to come in with good will and give your new partner the benefit of the doubt until you have the opportunity to get to know each other better.
The collegiality and collaboration between the two organizations has been really exciting to see. We share a primary desire to care for people and improve their lives. This enables us to create solutions that benefit both our organization and the people we serve. It’s not about us.
How is LG Health’s membership in Penn Medicine improving care here in Lancaster?
We are improving both the quality of care and the patient experience in our community. Our local Penn transplant clinics are a great example. Local availability of pre- and post-transplant care enhances the patient and family experience in what can be a very difficult time. Providing care close to home is always better for the patient.
In oncology, we’ve had a 25 plus-year relationship with Penn. Now we have the ability to put patients on research protocols here in Lancaster. This enhances both care quality and the patient experience, while providing researchers with information that will improve care worldwide.
Penn also has been instrumental in bringing certain “niche” services to the community, such as DIEP flap breast reconstruction and proton beam therapy. As genetics increasingly drive therapies, local patients will have access to a premiere institution with unparalleled expertise.
What has changed for local physicians so far?
I don’t think individual physicians have felt much of an impact just yet. We’re just starting to realize the benefits of being part of something bigger. For example, we are increasingly working with physicians across all areas of Penn Medicine to grow our knowledge base to ensure that our patients receive the highest quality of care. We’re looking forward to learning and growing together. The results will be both phenomenal and seamless as we move toward these shared goals over time.
Let’s talk about some specific focus areas for clinical integration, starting with primary care.
Penn now has the region’s largest primary-care network. We have almost 500 providers in our network, which includes the Clinical Practices of the University of Pennsylvania (CPUP), Clinical Care Associates (CCA) and LG Health Physicians, among others.
We are working together to provide convenient access to the highest quality of primary care throughout our region. There will always be some differences to meet the needs of local markets, but we are creating shared leadership and infrastructure to provide an overall vision around primary care.
What about trauma?
Our system currently has two trauma centers – at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center and LGH -- with a possible third on the horizon at Chester County Hospital. We hope to strengthen coordination of our entire trauma network and determine a strategy for the future. We think we can become the nation’s premiere trauma provider.
And continuity of care?
Our wide range of pre- and post-acute assets includes, among other things, hospice, nursing homes, rehabilitation, infusion and home health. Relationships and collaboration exist, but continuity of care is not yet seamless. We’re looking at ways our system can improve patient care and access by working more closely together.
Do you expect Penn Medicine will continue to grow?
We want to pursue intentional, thoughtful development across the region and look at potential integration partners strategically. We also want to be sure to integrate our newest partners before we think about what's next. Our goal is to be the right size and scope to support our patient base, not grow just for growth’s sake. At this point, we’re at a good size.
What are your thoughts on the future of healthcare?
As a Naval officer, I have the confidence that my ship is sound, and we’ve charted a really good course. Does that mean there won’t be choppy seas? No, but I would rather face choppy seas in a sleek, well-outfitted ship than a leaky boat with no clear sense of where it’s going. I think we have the right people at the helm and the right one at the rudder to help us get to our destination.
What else would you like to tell members of the Medical & Dental Staff?
Isn’t it cool to be part of a health system that includes 3,000 of America’s top providers, and some of its most forward-thinking researchers and best educators? We are growing and making investments in facilities all over the health system. What an exciting time.
We will meet the uncertainty of the future together, from a position of strength, of intellect, research and education. We can face these challenges with a collective mindset and focus on what’s important -- which is caring for patients -- and we can help each other by sharing what we have learned.
It’s important to remember that this is not an either/or situation. We are Penn Medicine. We are redefining healthcare and how it’s delivered for the 13 million people who live in the region we serve.