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From left: Brock Shamel, SVP of operations, Cox Medical Group; Beth Polivka, SVP and chief nursing officer; Dr. Shawn Usery, SVP and chief medical officer; and Ashley Casad, SVP and president of Springfield hospitals
Tawnie Wilson | SBJ
From left: Brock Shamel, SVP of operations, Cox Medical Group; Beth Polivka, SVP and chief nursing officer; Dr. Shawn Usery, SVP and chief medical officer; and Ashley Casad, SVP and president of Springfield hospitals

2024 Dynamic Dozen No. 6: CoxHealth

Posted online

SBJ: Looking back, how has CoxHealth’s long history of growth shaped the organization it is today?
Ashley Casad: We’re fortunate to be founded in the Ozarks and always be locally owned and governed. That local tie has been key as we‘ve made decisions which impact our neighbors. That’s always carried on over the last 100 years. The fact that we’re locally owned and governed and made decisions through that frame of mind has been integral to our success over the years.

SBJ: What has this growth allowed CoxHealth to do recently?
Casad: One exciting thing, we opened our Branson health clinic in April, where we have more than a dozen providers offering services such as primary care, occupational medicine, urgent care and endocrinology. CoxHealth has also added around 1,000 employees over the last year across the system.

SBJ: What are your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Casad: It’s all about balance. It’s balancing how you grow in a way that meets the needs of our patients. It requires stepping back and looking at growth from a 30,000-foot view, looking at what makes sense to hold on to. We have to be mindful of balance and ensure we’re continuing to progress forward but also ensuring we are keeping a manageable and sustainable level of growth. There’s a lot of room for growth, so being intentional about what can grow now and what can be paused is important.

SBJ: Has CoxHealth’s goals changed alongside its growth?
Casad: That’s one of the great things about working for CoxHealth is it being a mission-driven organization. How we do the work might change over time. We might modify our strategic plan each year. But it’s all about our mission to meet our community’s needs. Having that mission makes it easy to keep a consistent goal and north point.

SBJ: Is there such a thing as growing too fast?
Casad: There can be, but as long as we have the right processes in place and can check in with staff and leaders and monitor data, we can prevent it from growing too fast. It’s going back to balance and intentionality, monitoring our growth and making decisions around feedback we get.

SBJ: What’s on the horizon?
Casad: We have a lot of positive things happening right now. We announced we’ll transport CoxHealth’s electronic health records over to Epic, which also creates additional opportunities for staff. We have to hire additional team members because it’s a very large project to take on. We are also forming a joint venture with Select Medical, a national health care organization that focuses on physical rehabilitation, where we’ll open a brand-new freestanding inpatient physical rehab facility. Also, The Alliance for Healthcare Education, which we announced in the fall, will start its first program in 2024. We’ve already hired an executive director. We’re excited in terms of what that can do for being a huge economic driver, plus the clinical staff we’ll be training for the entire region.

SBJ: What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Casad: To stay curious as long as possible. Don’t assume you know the answers, keep asking questions, and go into every conversation being curious about what will happen.

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