How CEO Trevor Fetter brought Tenet back from the brink

Tenet Healthcare Corp. has come a long way since it faced a series of crises in 2003, and it owes much of its success to its CEO, Trevor Fetter, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Fetter took the helm when Tenet's hospitals were grappling with three serious investigations--one for surgical practices, one for billing practices and one for a kickback scheme--and while the shift toward outpatient care also threatened the system's bottom line.

To right the Dallas-based health system's ship, Fetter first hired a compliance officer who reported ethics and quality issues directly to its board of directors, according to the article. He also sold or closed about half of the company's hospitals and used the proceeds to invest in the remaining facilities and to pay a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department.

Despite the closures, Tenet also expanded during its turnaround. From 2006 to 2012, the health system aggressively increased the number of its outpatient facilities even as it avoided major hospital acquisitions. Then in late 2013, Tenet acquired Nashville, Tennessee-based Vanguard Health Systems, a move that Fetter credits primarily for Tenet's 50 percent spike in revenue in 2014.

Tenet also helped boost its profits by embracing the Affordable Care Act through its "Path to Health" program, which enrolls eligible patients in ACA-related coverage plans, according to FierceHealthFinance. Overall, the Morning News states, the company went from a $134 million loss in 2003 to $12 million in net income in 2014.

Tenet's recent moves on the merger and acquisition front have not been without controversy, however. Last December, the company scrapped a deal to buy five Connecticut hospitals after Tenet clashed with state regulators regarding conditions they placed on converting the not-for-profit facilities to for-profit ones.  

Patient safety issues also have come back to haunt the chain, as a recent CNN investigation into infant heart surgery deaths at Tenet-owned St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, led the federal government to eye the hospital and St. Mary's to discontinue the procedure.

But despite the challenges his health system still faces, Fetter says he's refocused Tenet to prioritize providing quality care at competitive prices, according to the Morning News. "There are some major trends developing in healthcare, and we have positioned Tenet in front of those trends," he said.

To learn more:
- read the article

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