Nipping the Opioid Crisis in the Bud – Kelly Doyle, EMHL ’19 & CEO of Rothman Orthopaedic

Kelly Doyle, EMHL ’19

To navigate the healthcare industry’s shift to quality driven care, c-suite officials must be equal part experts in business fundamentals and care delivery. Kelly Doyle, Class of Executive Master in Healthcare Leadership (EMHL) 2019, is that healthcare executive – hands on, bottom line focused, organizationally savvy, but always authentic – she is known for rocking high heels under her scrubs in the operating room.

Since 2011, Doyle has been the CEO of Rothman Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital, a small for-profit organization in the Philadelphia suburbs, but she began her career over twenty years ago as an RN. As she said in a WHYY Philadelphia interview,

If there is a nursing mailroom, I essentially worked my way up through it.

In the following interview, Doyle shares why at the top of the career ladder, she is pursuing an executive degree in healthcare leadership and how her personal story shaped the topic of her EMHL Critical Challenge Project (CCP), a program capstone requirement, to impact the U.S. opioid crisis.

Why did you join the EMHL Program?

“I’m always looking for the next big challenge. One day, information about the EMHL program came across my desk in the mail. I was wowed by the curriculum and its focus on leadership. While MBA courses I looked at included classes on finance, EMHL’s program focused on making decisions in finance as a healthcare leader. It offered high level engagement with academic and industry leaders in areas where I’m interested in growing as an executive to drive healthcare forward.

Since joining, I’ve never looked back. I’m thrilled with the whole program. I’ve met people that I’ll stay in touch with my whole life.”

EMHL Class of 2019

How has it helped you find new direction in your career at the executive level?

“One of the reasons I joined this program was because as confident as I am, I was dealing with a large addiction problem with two of my sons. No matter how much money, efforts, support, and love I gave I wasn’t having an impact – with my own family.

I thought that the EMHL CCP requirement gave me the time, space and expert community to help make an impact on our nation’s opioid crisis.

My first thought was let’s make treatment better. But based on my experience, treatment simply wasn’t helping. I didn’t see a path forward.”

How did you pivot your focus?

“Ten days after my first residential session, my son overdosed and died. It would have been easy to drop out. Honestly, I wanted to. But at the same time, there was a reason that I went into the program; one that seemed more important, now that I had lost my son.

While I didn’t think I could impact treatment, I do run a hospital. We prescribe narcotics to 100% of the patients that we treat. And we’re not alone. Americans consume 80% of the world’s narcotics produced. It became clear to me that we need to culturally change how we look at pain. The fact is, you will have pain after surgery. But our response is to take a pill, and then another. This culture shapes medical practices as well. For example, government and accreditation agencies make pain a vital sign which influences surgeons’ decisions.

I figured at the source is where I could have an impact because this is where addiction starts.”

CCP: a New Foundation for Promoting Alternative Pain Management Solutions

“I used my CCP to partner with the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute and create the Rothman Institute Opioid Awareness Foundation to promote research, awareness, teaching and alternative pain management solutions. Even though I’m still a student, we’ve already established the Foundation and its board. We’ve started trialing new pain modalities at the hospital, looking for grants, enlarging the footprint of hospitals in our network, and sharing our research findings that we may overmedicate and unnecessarily expose people to addictive substances, and most importantly, that there are alternatives.”

What has struck you the most about the program?

“The last year has been a real challenge but I’ve remained committed to this and my CCP. I owe much of it to the amazing people in the program. I’m in awe of all of them. We’re extremely supportive of each other. It’s hard to believe we didn’t know each other a year ago. We’re interested in and able to add value to each other’s CCPs because we bring to bear a host of different perspectives across the healthcare sector.

EMHL’s secret sauce is how the curriculum and mix of people’s experience translates into real world value. You graduate ready to lead in a whole new way.”

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