Baptist Health CEO Troy Wells on Best & Worst of Obamacare

Troy Wells has been the president and CEO of Baptist Health of Little Rock since July.

Wells joined Baptist Health in 2006. He has served as senior vice president of administrative services, CEO of Arkansas Health Group and vice president of Practice Plus. Before joining Baptist Health, Wells was the COO for Newport Hospital & Clinic. He received his bachelor’s degree in microbiology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and his master’s in health services administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He is an associate of the American College of Healthcare.

What’s on the top of your to-do list for Baptist Health?

Our leadership team is very focused right now in assessing all aspects of our health system and preparing it for the future. Along with that, we are focusing on how we can continue to develop our people throughout the organization.

What’s the best thing about Obamacare?

It allowed Arkansas to create the “private option.” Arkansas has reduced the percentage of uninsured people from an estimated 22 percent down to 12 percent. This is a dramatic improvement that leads the country. As Arkansans we should be very proud of that.

What’s the worst thing about Obamacare?

That it is has created such an emotional and political divide when we should all be working together to improve the health of our communities and our state.

The New York Times recently reported that the base pay of insurance executives, hospital executives and even hospital administrators often far outstrips doctors’ salaries. Why are hospital administrators’ salaries so high?

The short answer is that it is supply and demand at work. In order to attract top talent in a very complicated business, health systems have to compensate their leadership in a competitive manner. These salary ranges do vary across the country based on the region and the size/complexity of the organization. While I cannot speak for other hospitals, at Baptist Health our executive compensation is set by our board based on the average range of national comparison surveys of other billion-dollar, not-for-profit health care organizations, longevity with the organization and annual evaluation of individual performance.

What’s your view of hospitals forming partnerships? What are some of the benefits and detriments of the partnerships?

I think partnerships are of tremendous value under the right circumstances. The important thing is to ensure that partnering organizations have similar goals and values. The benefits can be opportunities to achieve goals together that would otherwise be very difficult or impossible to achieve. For any partnership to be successful, both partners must be willing to sacrifice something for the greater good of the partnership. This can be a detriment to the partnership if each party is not willing to do that.

How are you different from Russ Harrington Jr., who had been the head of Baptist Health for 30 years?

Russ is a legend in health care in Arkansas. That comes with having over 40 years in leadership roles within Baptist Health. That longevity and experience is the biggest difference between us. Fortunately for me, Russ is working in a senior adviser role now, so I can tap into that tremendous amount of experience that he has. Russ has served as a valuable mentor to me, and it’s always more fun to talk about the ways in which we are alike. We both love Baptist Health and are committed to its mission to serve and improve the health of the people of Arkansas.