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Broward's Healthcare Challenge

Alan Levine
Broward Health CEO Alan Levine
[Photo: Eileen Escarda]

Alan Levine, former head of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, took the top job at the North Broward Hospital District in 2006. Last October, the district changed its name to Broward Health.

Florida Trend: How do Broward County’s healthcare challenges mirror the state’s?

Alan Levine: A lot of challenges we face today will make their way up the state. We have a very diverse population in terms of insurance coverage, with 24% uninsured in our district. Racial disparities also factor into the challenges you have to deal with. We’re also looking at physician supply challenges. Today, 25% of the doctors practicing in Broward are over 65, and 18% are between 55 and 65. Statewide, nearly half the population of physicians is at or near retirement [See Healthcare Industry Outlook].

FT: When you arrived, the district faced strong pressures to cut costs. How have you undertaken this?

AL: We’ve carved out more than $30 million in expenses, $50 million over the next six years, by virtue of renegotiation of contracts and increasing hospital staff productivity. Many of the cost savings we’ve achieved have been from renegotiating physician contracts. Now, we’re working on reducing the length of stay and finding inefficiencies in the system. On the other hand, you can’t just cut your way to success. We have an outstanding cancer center, and we just acquired a new proton beam therapy technology, the first in south Florida and one of five in the U.S. We also renovated two emergency rooms.

FT: Why the name change, and how do you explain the higher costs of a rebranding campaign?

AL: I did not believe that if you’re deciding where to bring your family for healthcare, a district is not where you want to bring your family — it sounds more like a police precinct.

FT: Looking back from your current position, what do you wish you had done while you held a statewide job?

AL: I wish I’d spoken out against new medical schools and for new residencies. Residencies are capped — we don’t have any additional spots. All these additional medical school graduates will go to other states to do their residencies. New physicians are more likely to practice near where they did their residencies.