Inova Health System CEO Singleton stepping down after 3 decades at the helm

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J. Knox Singleton is leaving his post as Inova Health System CEO, which he's held since 1982.

The man who oversaw the growth of Inova Health System from a small system to a northern Virginia institution will step down after 35 years. 

Knox Singleton Inova Health System
Knox Singleton

J. Knox Singleton is leaving his post as Inova CEO, which he's held since 1982, to allow for future healthcare leaders to develop, he told The Washington Post. "You wouldn't pick someone like me for the next decade," Singleton said. 

Under his leadership, Inova has grown from a three-hospital system with 1,000 employees to five hospitals across northern Virginia that employ 17,000. In his tenure as CEO, Inova has founded multiple specialty hospitals, a cancer institute and clinics for low-income patients. 

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Singleton told the newspaper that he's most proud of the work Inova has done in genomics, which it jumped into early on. Every baby born at one of the system's hospitals has his or her genes mapped, and Singleton said he believes genomics is the "biggest scientific discovery since World War I." 

His tenure was not without controversy, however. Singleton faced criticism in the early 1990s for his salary, which outpaced any other hospital executive in Virginia at the time, and he's been accused of snapping up smaller facilities to create a monopoly, according to the article.

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In addition to investing in genomics and precision medicine research, Inova has expanded its training programs to grow the workforce for that research. Certificate programs will allow Inova to quickly expand its precision medicine team. 

"We’re training the workforce of the future," said Todd Stottlemyer, CEO of the Inova Center for Personalized Health. 

Another area where Inova has found success under Singleton is its Innovation Health partnership with Aetna. The two organizations formed a joint payer-provider network in 2012, and since then it has experienced financial successes that include consistently coming in under budget. Innovation Health also has reduced healthcare costs by 8%, mostly through cutting down on waste.