Mount Sinai Health System

Donald Scanlon, Mount Sinai Health System

Donald Scanlon

A Culture of Accountability

Editors’ Note

Donald Scanlon’s leadership role builds upon over a decade of achievement at Mount Sinai that began in 2003 when he was appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. Previously, he had been Senior Vice President of Finance at New York Presbyterian Hospital & Health System and, before that, Vice President of Finance at Mount Sinai for 10 years, including several years when Mount Sinai and New York University were merged. Scanlon is a member of the Board of Healthfirst and the Board of HANYS Insurance Company. He began his career as an Audit Manager at Deloitte & Touche, where he focused on healthcare clients. He has been a Certified Public Accountant in New York State since 1987, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants.

What made the recent transformation work so well, and what has it been like to maintain and strengthen your position year after year?

I had previously worked at Mount Sinai and left, but I came back because I love and believe in Mount Sinai and have great respect for many of the people who work here. I also have great respect for Ken Davis (President and Chief Executive Officer). He has the same passion for Mount Sinai that I do.

I came back at a difficult time for Mount Sinai. The merger with NYU had been challenging and we had lost focus. But I knew that the necessary elements for greatness were here – cutting-edge research, high quality patient care, devoted staff, and a highly motivated and focused senior management team.

We turned Mount Sinai’s performance around by focusing on fundamentals and fostering a culture of accountability. People were encouraged to make changes and were held accountable to meet goals. We also became a data-driven institution, focused on ensuring transparency and empowering people to use data to manage to our expectations.

By late 2003, there was a noticeable improvement in morale as the institution began to assume the same enthusiasm and focused attention that senior management had and as new initiatives began to succeed. We made sure to engage physicians in the process to find solutions to the problems they faced. We implemented discipline around spending and created a can-do culture.

We have a lot of long-term employees that love this institution and who appreciate the chance to participate in Mount Sinai’s success. With some good recruiting by senior management, we started to turn the tide.

Today, as new people come on, in order for them to succeed, they have to uphold the culture we built and value a focus on continuous improvement. This requires a willingness to be the ones to make the changes and put an emphasis on managing with data.

How important is it to continue to invest in technology and innovation?

Information technology is critical to our clinicians and patients. We have made a large investment in IT and we continue to invest. The care that is provided in the future will not be as hospital-centric as it is today. A hospital in our system will look much different in the future and that transformation will largely be driven by technology.•