Improving the health status of people in America’s most underserved communities is the mission and calling of Benjamin Anderson, MBA, MHCDS, who currently serves as CEO of Kearny County Hospital, a comprehensive rural health complex located in southwest Kansas.

Raised in an urban community on the West Coast, Anderson experienced poverty during some of his childhood years. These formative experiences played a major role in his commitment to equity and justice, with special attention toward underserved and marginalized people.

His career in healthcare administration began in 2009 as CEO of Ashland Health Center, a struggling hospital and the only health provider in a Kansas town of 900 people. There, he led an effort that dramatically revitalized the community’s healthcare services, recruiting and retaining several medical providers to serve a multi-county area between Kansas and Oklahoma.

Since arriving at Kearny County Hospital, Anderson received national acclaim for his work in physician recruitment, health promotion, women’s health initiatives, and rural healthcare delivery innovation.

His speaking experiences include keynote addresses for state association meetings, conducting strategy retreats for hospital boards, speaking to senior leadership teams in urban hospitals, education sessions at physician residencies, moderating discussions for ACHE meetings, and presenting twice at the Dartmouth College Symposium on Healthcare Delivery Science.

Anderson is a talented storyteller, known for tying his own experiences to applicable lessons. His laid-back, humorous, narrative and interactive style leads his audiences toward embracing change and choosing their own destiny, interweaving a compelling moral case for serving our nation’s most vulnerable people.

Featured Presentations:

Equity in the Finance of Health Care Delivery

The United States is experiencing a growing presence of health disparities, which are often indicated by higher incidence of disease and disability, increased mortality rates, lower life expectancies, and higher rates of pain and suffering.

Other factors for health disparities include race, gender, geographic isolation, lower socio-economic status, higher rates of health risk behaviors, and limited job opportunities. Some of the highest rates of chronic illness and poor overall health are found in rural communities when compared to urban populations.

Through humanizing this sensitive issue with a series of true stories, Anderson challenges his audiences to grapple with the realities that a black baby in the US is more than twice as likely to die in the first year of life as a white baby, how rural Americans are 50% more likely to die from unintended injury than urban Americans, and how a black woman who is educated at the graduate level and of a high socioeconomic status is more likely to die during the birth of her child than a poor white woman with less than a high school education.

While asking the simple question, “Are we okay with this?” Anderson offers tools for measuring disparities and practical ways to change the systems that perpetuate them.

Population Health – Defining Outcomes by Asking the Right Questions

Value-based healthcare delivery in its simplest form is the practice of measuring changes in health outcomes against the cost of producing them. Yet, effectively measuring these outcomes is a complex process that requires the intervention of mission-focused, adaptive leadership. One of the most common barriers to producing meaningful outcomes is our failure to ask the right questions. In traditional patient satisfaction surveys, hospitals often inquire about the taste of food quality, staff communication, or the state of the facilities. In essence, we are asking, “How were we?” What we should be asking is, “How are you? Has your health improved? What do you value in your healthcare experience and how can we help you develop and achieve your own health goals?” In this presentation, Benjamin tells the story of how one frontier healthcare delivery system is making the transition from an internal focus on traditional process improvement to patient-centered outcomes by successfully soliciting the input of 80% of the households in its culturally diverse communities. This collaborative survey process leveraged relationships with a medical school, local government, healthcare, public health, law enforcement, employers, education system, and area migrant services. The data was surprising and has redefined this county’s strategy for improving the health of its population.

Shared Decision Making and Care Coordination– Life or Death

In March of 2013, Benjamin’s 34-day-old daughter was hospitalized with an acute cardiac condition that caused her heart rate to increase to over 300 beats per minute. Within 24 hours, she was transported by ambulance and airplane through three states and to three different hospitals. By the time she arrived at her final destination, she was in critical condition. With this true story, Benjamin leads his audience through an exhilarating and, at times, disheartening journey of seeking healing for his vulnerable, first-born twin daughter. His experience was complicated by the fact that as the CEO of the first hospital where she received care, he felt partly responsible for the disjointed systems that led to her extreme suffering. Fueled by knowing that much it would have been avoided with integrated care coordination and effective shared decision-making, Benjamin makes a compelling case and offers tools for developing integrated healthcare delivery systems, including collaborative processes that allow patients and their providers to make evidence-based health care decisions together.

An Ethical Case for Excellence in Healthcare Delivery

As the US grapples with the implementation of legislation that could afford all citizens access to healthcare coverage, rural communities face additional challenges. First, insurers are still paying generously through the Critical Access Hospital program for high-cost inpatient and emergency services with very little focus on incentivizing population heath. To make matters more difficult, rural healthcare delivery systems often lack the basic primary care and community-based infrastructure to properly manage the health of their populations. Put simply, even if insurers incentivized interventions that would lead to better overall outcomes for people, those services are not available in many rural communities. In this presentation, Benjamin tells the story of the rapid growth and transformation of Kearny County Hospital, a frontier healthcare delivery system in one of the United States’ most culturally diverse and medically underserved areas. He addresses the fatalism that has become common in rural communities, while referencing the Four Principles of Biomedical Ethics to make a compelling case for essential steps to effective, sustainable reform.

Mission-Focused Medicine in Rural America – An Innovative Solution for Physician Recruitment and Retention

The American Association of Medical Colleges predicts a shortage of between 12,000 and 31,000 primary care physicians in the US by 2025. Those shortages will be even more concentrated in rural or frontier areas. Kearny County Hospital (KCH) in Lakin, Kansas, was turning away an average of 50 patients per week from 2014 to 2015. This led to the inappropriate use of Emergency Department services among its diverse patient population. To address this issue and to appeal to the Millennial generation of physicians, KCH bolstered its recruitment plan to include, among other incentives, paid time off for doctors to serve internationally as medical missionaries. Because southwest Kansas has become home to 30 different nationalities, KCH has come to realize that having international experience better equips doctors to work in rural areas of Kansas, and vice versa. This approach was so effective that KCH leveraged its success to help other rural hospitals recruit medical providers as well, coordinating biannual weekend events, where by dozens of physician residents are flown on private airplanes to experience rural healthcare together. This has led to large numbers of medical providers moving to southwest Kansas. In this presentation, KCH CEO Benjamin Anderson provides audiences practical tools for physician recruitment and retention and the development of a collaborative mission-focused culture to attract them.

Speaker Topics

  • Delivering Value through Delivery System Innovation
  • Diversity and Equity of Care
  • Hospital/Physician Relations and Clinical Integration
  • Innovation and Change Management
  • Leadership
  • Medical Staff Development
  • Organizational Culture
  • Population Health
  • Rural Health Care
  • Workforce Issues

Speaker Type

  • Breakout Presenter
  • Group Facilitator
  • Keynote Presenter
  • Presentation Moderator
  • Webinar Presenter