IBJNews

LEADING QUESTIONS: Wishard's top doc stays true to roots

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” in which IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about the latest developments in their industries and the habits that lead to success.

Dr. Lisa Harris, 54, presides over one of the most ambitious health-care projects in Indianapolis history: construction of the $754 million Wishard Hospital project that will replace the sprawling, 17-building Wishard Health Services campus by 2014.



As CEO and medical director of Wishard Health Services, Harris helped spearhead the campaign drumming up public support for $661 million in bonds to fund the hospital project. And she now spends a great deal of her time preparing for the transition to the new 327-bed facility, which will feature an 11-story hospital tower adjoining a 200-room ambulatory care building, and a 90-bed emergency department with an adult trauma center.

Obviously, she has more than enough on her plate as the girders go up on the west end of the IUPUI campus, but she remains connected to her roots as a physician in internal medicine by continuing to see patients once a week.

“I don’t think there is any better way of knowing what’s working or not in our system than to be a physician practicing in that system,” Harris said. “I’ve noticed that our administrative suite tends to clear out on Thursday evenings [when I see patients] quicker than at other times, because they all know I’m going to come back with all these ideas, or just frustrations.”

Growing up in Terre Haute, Harris from an early age had an intense interest in wellness—the process of maintaining good health and avoiding preventable diseases and other health problems. She graduated from the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she completed residency training in internal medicine, the specialty dealing with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of adult diseases.

She was pegged as Wishard’s chief of medicine in 1999 and became CEO and medical director in 2004. (Wishard is the chief teaching hospital for Indiana University.) Initially concerned by transitioning from research and patient care to managerial responsibilities, Harris soon found that her experience as a physician could be applied to administrative and strategic functions.

“I think what I learned is that I had more capacity than I appreciated,” she said. “I think you can learn some of these things about decision making and leading an organization in business school, but also you can learn it in a number of settings.

“A lot of what I have to do [as a doctor] is ask lots of questions, listen very carefully and gather information from a wide variety of inputs. And then you have to make a decision. I think internal medicine, too, is an area where you have to be comfortable with uncertainty and be able to operate in the gray zone," she said. "And I think you can translate that directly to working to lead an organization. If you have to know every answer before you make a decision, you’re not going to be as nimble as we need to be now.”

In the video at top, Harris further expounds on the value of leaving the administrative offices and donning a stethoscope. In the video below, she provides an update on the construction of the new Wishard and what she expects will be a principal challenge in the transition. She also reveals the best advice she ever received.


 


ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Why should citizens rates increase forever to basically reduce Dukes cost to operate in the future? They will have no meter readers, no connect/disconnect personnel and will need fewer lineman to handle the same number of customers. Add to that the ability to replace customer service by giving detailed information electronically. Why do we have to subsidize the cost cutting measures of a Public Utility?

  2. In response to Sassafras, I have to ask if you relocated directly from Bloomington to Carmel? First, as you point out, Carmel is 48 square miles. Do you think it’s possible that some areas are more densely developed than others? That might explain traffic density in some places while others are pretty free moving. Second, your comment “have you ever been to Chicago--or just about any city outside of Indiana?” belies your bias. I don’t know, Sassafras, have you never been to Nashville, Columbus, OH, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix? They’re not a lot different in density than Indy. One more thing…I understand these comment sections are for expressing opinions, so those of us just looking for facts have to be patient, but you mention “low-density” Indy. How many cities in the US comprise 400 square miles with about 10% of that still being agricultural? Those facts certainly can impact the statistics.

  3. With all the past shady actions of Duke with utility regulators, one wonders do they really need such a huge amount? Concerned regulators not protecting ratepayers from the aggressive Duke monolith.

  4. I thought that had to be the way it was but had to ask because I wasn't sure. Thanks Again!

  5. I could be wrong, but I don't think Butler views the new dorm as mere replacements for Schwitzer and or Ross.

ADVERTISEMENT