Mead Mulvihill

IMSE Class of 2014

INOVA Fair Oaks Hospital

What does the company do? INOVA Fair Oaks is a community hospital located about 15 miles outside of DC, as one of 5 INOVA hospitals it serves the residents of Northern Virginia. Fair Oaks is primarily a surgical hospital with the majority of the patients coming to the facility for elective surgical procedures.

Current job: Director PeriOp Business Analytics

How I get to my current role:

  • PeriOp Process Improvement Intern – WVU Medicine 05/2013 – 05/2014
  • Process Analyst – WVU Medicine                                       05/2014 – 10/2015
  • Lean Consultant – INOVA Health System                         10/2015 – 11/2016
  • Director PeriOp Business Analytics – INOVA Fair Oaks 11/2106 – Present


What does my job entail? First and foremost, I am responsible for helping to set and evaluate the business direction for surgical services at IFOH. To make it simple, I work as an intermediary between our finance and clinical side to ensure that we have everything needed to best serve our patients, while also maintaining good cost control and revenue generation. This includes providing clinical leadership with appropriate analytics to track performance, and evaluate potential improvement opportunities. When financial opportunities are identified, I am also responsible for managing these initiatives to ensure that we obtain the desired business results. For example that could be a reduction in supply costs by cutting out waste or developing a business plan to bring in equipment that would allow us to perform a new type of surgery and better serve more of our patients in the area. I also oversee the PeriOp Business Office which handles ensuring that all documentation and charging is correct following surgery.

Below is an example of a day from this week:

6:00AM- I wake up every day at 6am get dressed, make my breakfast and get out the door as quick as I can. I pride myself in being as efficient as possible so I usually already have all my clothes laid out, my gym bag packed, and my meals for the day already prepped and in the fridge. One thing I’ve found is there are two types of people when you get out of college; those who prefer to get into work early and get out early, or those who would rather sleep in some and work later into the day. I prefer the former partially due to the fact that the clinical staff starts so early and partially because I like avoiding the DC traffic as much as possible.

7:15AM- I arrive to work around the same time every day. Usually my commute is around 30 minutes. As long as I’m out the door by 6:45 I’m in good shape. First thing I do is stop in my office to check my email and review my calendar for the day. Another nice thing about getting in earlier is it gives you some time to prep yourself for what’s coming. Some days I’ll be in meetings back to back all day while others I’ll block off my day to work on some desk work. This is a strategy I learned early on to ensure that I wasn’t getting too bogged down in meetings. Today is a light day and I plan on working on a couple of reports for upcoming meetings.

8:30AM- Every day at 8:30 the PeriOp team has a huddle to review the day and talk about any issues or safety events that occurred the previous day. I try to always attend in case there are any business related issues that need to be addressed. Today everything is running fairly smoothly.

8:58AM- This is when things start to get crazy. I receive an email from my boss the Senior Director of Finance.  When calculating the close for February, they found that we were over budget on our surgical implant costs for the month. She needs a justification for those overages and a cost control plan by noon the following day. Knowing this is now my highest priority, I go back to my office and reschedule all of my non critical meetings for the day.

9:15AM- First step for me is to begin pulling data and creating some Excel sheets to try and identify where the overages are originating from. One of my frustrations with health care is that most data is stored in a number of different software’s/programs. Many of these don’t interact, and some won’t even export to Excel, so it can necessitate a lot of manual data pulls and calculations. These kinds of situations are why it is CRITICAL to keep a pair of headphones in your office. I just shut the door, put on some music and focus in. Luckily most of the data I need this time is fairly easy to gather and get into Excel.

11:00AM- I have built a nice spreadsheet identifying our overages and where we have variances from our previous 3 month run rate. At this point, I go down to meet with one of the lead financial analysts who acts as my counterpart. Our first step is to go through and make sure that we aren’t double accruing for any invoices that have already been paid. A lot of the accounting aspects I have had to learn as I go. That’s one bonus of moving out of just process improvement and into an operations role, you constantly are learning new things and in all honesty it can be a lot of fun.

12:30PM- It takes some time, but we are able to scrub our data and get a better picture of where we had issues this month. We still have overages that will require a meeting with the clinical leadership to help me understand and justify them. I scheduled that meeting for later in the afternoon and take a moment to heat up some lunch and answer emails.

1:00PM- With lunch over and emails answered I sit down to spend some time on a block utilization analysis and process map which I will need for meetings on Thursday.

2:00PM- Time to meet with the OR Clinical Director, Materials Management Director and Service Line lead for spine cases to talk about our overages.  We begin to pull together justifications for the overages. We also identify several potential cost saving improvements that can be made. I document these so I can develop a project plan to set deliverables and track progress.  We also identify some data needs that are not currently available. This includes having a “cost per case” for our spine surgeons to see if any are spending significantly more than their colleagues on the same cases. This is something I will have to work on developing in the coming weeks/months.

3:00PM- I go back to my office and schedule needed follow up meetings and work on a project plan to track deliverables from the meeting.

4:00PM- I circle back with my boss to discuss our findings from the day. I give her a report on the overages and explanations as well as a rundown of the improvement initiatives we will be putting in place over the next month.

4:30PM- I review my calendar to see if there is anything I don’t yet have prepared for the following days meetings. Having nothing critical left its time to pack up for the day and head to the gym before going home.

Why choose Healthcare?  I was always drawn to working in healthcare because I liked the idea of knowing what I did was helping people, even if it was only in a small way. It’s nice to know everything I do connect back to our patients.

What’s the end goal? Currently I’m trying to work towards being the CEO of a hospital or health system. But I have a lot of interest and could see myself doing a number of things.

Most surprising thing that I didn’t expect coming out of college- You don’t need to be a hero when it comes to the hours you work. Burning yourself out is a real thing that I know I was guilty of early on. Now I’m not saying that it isn’t important to have a strong work ethic and a first in last out mentality! But this is what I’ve learned, you are going to have plenty of 10, 12, 14 hour days, days when things go wrong, and it feels like you’re stuck at work forever. Take the regular days when you can get them. If you have things that can wait until the next day just leave it go home and get some rest. You better serve your coworkers, your boss and yourself if you are coming in each day focused and fresh. Work life balance is important and especially right out of college you want to make sure you are getting time to enjoy life.

Least favorite thing about Healthcare- As an industry it is very resistant to change. It can be hard to break people out of the habits they have had for years if not decades, and the resistance can feel difficult to overcome at times.

Words of Advice – NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!!!! The only reason I got the opportunity to make the jump into this job is because I worked on a project with the CFO while I was at a different hospital, and she felt I was a good fit for what they wanted. I’ve even found personally when we have job openings I like to reach out to people I know or have worked with because I can feel confident that they would be a good fit.

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