As the health care industry grew increasingly complicated, as mergers and acquisitions became the trend, and as preventative medicine increased in significance, strategy officers began to appear on hospital rosters.
“It’s a position that has evolved over the years,” Julie Carmichael said. “The CEO often doesn’t have time to focus on those big strategy issues.”
And Carmichael should know. To take her current job, she stepped down as CEO for Suburban Health Organization, which coordinates purchasing and contracting among nine county hospitals, in addition to St. Vincent Health and Community Health Network.
“Even my parents don’t know what I do,” Carmichael said. “When I told them I was taking the job, they tilted their heads and said, ‘Why would you do that?’”
She had her reasons. “I ran Suburban Health for nine years. It was great. I learned a lot. But this was a huge opportunity. One of the things that appealed to me was being responsible for a wide range of areas—things I hadn’t been very involved with, like real estate, construction and marketing.”
In her new role, she has led a St. Vincent branding campaign, spearheaded a fundraising and social media push for Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, and helped develop programming to ease the transition to the online health insurance marketplace created under Obamacare.
A big part of her jobs at Suburban Health and at St. Vincent Health has been balancing business and mission.
“We’re committed to taking care of the poor and vulnerable,” she said. “We have to evolve and become better at our business in order to make sure we always have the resources to do that. At the same time, we have a responsibility not only to the nuns who started St. Vincent, but also to the community to be more than just a business.
“I really think we’re at the beginning of the transformation of health care,” she added. “We have many more years ahead as we figure out how to deliver the best care we can at the best price we can. It’s a learning curve for everyone. But we have a lot to be optimistic about. Health care is filled with energetic, committed people.”
Carmichael is one of those energetic, committed people. In addition to her St. Vincent duties, she serves as an adjunct faculty member for the Indiana University School of Medicine.
For recreation, she heads to the golf course, where Carmichael has been a formidable presence since her youthful days playing at Martinsville Golf Club, which her father owned.
After graduating from Stanford University on a golf scholarship, she became an Indiana Women’s State Amateur Champion, was inducted into the Indiana Golf Hall of Fame, and served on the Indiana Golf Foundation board of directors.
“It’s still a great business skill to have,” she said, “and it might be even more helpful as a woman in business. I get a lot of invitations to play on scrambles teams, and I’ve made a lot of business connections and relationships because of golf.”•
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