Dr. Pedro F. Escobar-Rodriguez EMHL ’18 Transforming Women’s Healthcare in Puerto Rico

Recently, Brown University received a letter of commendation for Dr. Pedro F. Escobar-Rodriguez, Director of Women’s Services at San Jorge Children’s Hospital in Puerto Rico, and member of the Executive Master in Healthcare Leadership (EMHL) 2018 Cohort. The letter served as a reminder that the EMHL community doesn’t simply strive to transform healthcare. We do it.

San Jorge Children’s Hospital CEO Domingo Cruz Vivaldi sent the letter to Brown University Dean of the School of Professional Studies and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Karen Sibley. In the letter, Dr. Vivaldi recognized Dr. Escobar’s EMHL Critical Challenge Project (CCP) for laying out the hospital’s planning, organization and acquisition of state-of-the-art endoscopic and robotic surgical instrumentation to provide the latest surgical technology to its patients. In addition to crediting Dr. Escobar’s leadership for reducing hospital costs and improving the patient experience, Dr. Vivaldi wrote,

“I have been impressed with your Executive Master’s program and the ability of physicians such as Dr. Escobar to analyze our current healthcare challenges and limitations particularly after Hurricane Maria, and create flexible, and sustainable surgical solutions for our healthcare organization. My utmost admiration for Brown’s Executive Master in Healthcare Leadership Program and congratulations to Dr. Escobar for finishing his Master’s degree.”

Dr. Escobar’s EMHL Journey

Dr. Escobar’s achievement reflects that rare mix of extraordinary capacity, tenacity, and humanity necessary to transform healthcare for all. His impressive reputation as an expert robotic and minimally invasive surgeon was well established when he decided to return home to Puerto Rico. His CV included leading healthcare institutions in his field, such as Northwestern University and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, and fellowships at the American College of Surgeons, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Upon his arrival, he accepted a position at the San Jorge Children’s Hospital to transform it from a pediatrics hospital to a women’s and children’s hospital. Dr. Escobar commented on adjusting to Puerto Rico’s healthcare environment,

“Coming from one of the top two hospitals in the world, it was surprising to learn what it was like to practice medicine in Puerto Rico.  The technology was behind, the insurance landscape more challenging, and affordable medical choices limited. Operating on an island, we couldn’t simply send people to neighboring states for procedures we didn’t offer.”

EMHL: The Perfect Formula for Impacting the Business of Healthcare

Dr. Escobar joined EMHL to develop a strategy for building out the women’s wing.

“As an academic surgeon, I knew I lacked the business skills to expand the hospital in this complex environment. Residency and Fellowship taught me to perform complex cancer surgery but nothing about managing healthcare, or crafting and hammering out deals with multiple stakeholders.”

Commenting on the EMHL curriculum, Dr. Escobar said,

“The program’s content is incredibly practical. On day one, I was already using ideas and concepts that I learned in my healthcare policy and finance courses.  As the program progressed, I started looking at the healthcare system through different disciplinary lenses, and developing the skills to think creatively about finances, and converse with a broad array of stakeholders across the industry.

For example, I realized that being on an island guaranteed a dependable user base for our services.  I did a breakout analysis and came up with a pay-for-utilization financing model that wouldn’t lock up our capital in machines and equipment. I successfully brokered an agreement with an equipment company that was a win-win for everyone.

Equally importantly, EMHL gave me the soft skills to drive the harder parts of business like transforming the culture of the hospital to deal with a different patient population.

Despite the devastating destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Maria, within only one year into his new position at San Jorge, Dr. Escobar has remarkably succeeded in getting the Women’s Pavilion up and running and offering the women of Puerto Rico state-of-the-art laparoscopic and robotic equipment for minimal invasive cancer surgery and access to the latest clinical trials.

“To navigate today’s healthcare complexities, you need a program that gives you the right set of healthcare business tools,” said Dr. Escobar.  “That’s what Brown did for me.”

Dr. Pedro F. Escobar-Rodriguez, EMHL ’18

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