Nebraska Medicine names new CEO

by Taylor Wilson, Nebraska Medicine | May 17, 2016

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Daniel J. DeBehnke, M.D., M.B.A.
Daniel J. DeBehnke, M.D., M.B.A., has been named the new chief executive officer of Nebraska Medicine, succeeding interim CEO Rosanna Morris, and interim President Bradley Britigan, M.D.

Dr. DeBehnke is currently the chief executive officer of Medical College Physicians, the Milwaukee-based physicians group representing more than 1,500 academic physicians and providers who practice at Froedtert Hospital, the Medical College of Wisconsin Clinics and other hospitals in southeastern Wisconsin.

Dr. DeBehnke has served as CEO of Medical College Physicians since August 2013. He simultaneously served as senior associate dean for clinical affairs-adult practice and professor of emergency medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

"The opportunity to lead an organization with such a legacy of excellence like Nebraska Medicine is one that I am extremely excited to undertake," Dr. DeBehnke said. "I am very much looking forward to getting started in Omaha and getting to know the providers and staff members who provide the serious medicine and extraordinary care for which Nebraska Medicine has come to be known."

With an intensifying focus on clinical quality, the growing trend is to hire a physician as CEO. With a physician at the helm, there are opportunities to lead the drive for improved quality of care, patient safety and clinical efficiency. Still, a 2014 American College of Physician Executives' report showed only 5 percent of hospital leaders are physicians.

"Leading the process of finding the right person to lead this organization was a great honor," said UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., chair of the Nebraska Medicine Advisory Board. "We realize how many individuals, families and communities, as well as our employees and medical staff, look to Nebraska Medicine as the highest standard in health care in the region. The board set out to find a physician-leader who could not only personify what the organization was all about, but one who could lead Nebraska Medicine during such a transformational time. There is no question we found that person in Dr. DeBehnke.

"We are very grateful to Dr. Britigan and Ms. Morris for their dedication and excellence as well as the hard work of our search committee. The broad national interest in this position underscored the superb global reputation of Nebraska Medicine for serious medicine and extraordinary care," Dr. Gold said.

In taking over for Morris and Dr. Britigan, the hiring of Dr. DeBehnke brings an end to the interim co-leadership model implemented while the clinical integration of Nebraska Medicine was taking place -- something that started in late 2013.

"It has been a privilege to lead this organization during such an exciting time," Morris said. "We're nearing completion on major projects like the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center and Lauritzen Outpatient Center. I have no doubt there are even more incredible things on the horizon for Nebraska Medicine, and I'm certain that with Dr. DeBehnke leading the way, our patients and employees will continue to be at the center of everything we do."

"I am extremely proud of what we accomplished during this time of transition," Dr. Britigan said. "The co-leadership model worked extremely well as we worked to unify the cultures and business operations of separate organizations under the new Nebraska Medicine umbrella. Going forward, I'm confident Dr. DeBehnke is the right person to lead this organization through all the rapid changes taking place in health care nationwide."

Dr. DeBehnke's leadership at Medical College Physicians contributed to enormous growth in the breadth and depth of physicians and advanced practice providers there. He led numerous successful changes in that organization including the launch of a new 300,000 square foot professional office building for faculty and staff, while working closely with Medical College of Wisconsin's primary adult academic hospital partner, Froedtert Health. Dr. DeBehnke helped to significantly enhance support for physician recruitment, funds flow alignment to support the academic missions of education and research, and to enhance alignment around safety and quality initiatives, which have led to numerous awards for the organization.

"After more than 20 years working with the Medical College of Wisconsin, it took just the right opportunity to pull me away from an organization with which I was so familiar and passionate about," Dr. DeBehnke said. "I am extremely honored and humbled to have even been considered to take the reins of Nebraska Medicine during a time of such extreme growth and exciting possibility. I can't wait to get to work in Omaha."

Dr. Britigan and Morris will continue to serve in their roles as interim president and interim CEO until Dr. DeBehnke's arrival later this summer. Thereafter, Dr. Britigan will continue in his permanent role as dean of the UNMC College of Medicine. He will remain a critical partner and prominent leader for Nebraska Medicine and will actively assist Dr. DeBehnke. Morris will transition to an executive vice president role for the health system, reporting to Dr. DeBehnke, also supporting him during the transition.

Dr. DeBehnke is expected to start at Nebraska Medicine in late July.

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Charles D. Fritch M.D.
May 28, 2016 at 1:35 PM

New CEO from Wisconsin. Merger of UNMC and Clarkson Hospital completed. Merger of UNMC Physicians Group with Clarkson Physician Group. Approved by the Nebraska Board of Regents. New enity to do $150 M-200 M bond offering July or August. Very encouraging. cdf.

Mike Sitorius
May 17, 2016 at 6:21 AM

Rosanna and Dr. Britigan should be recognized for the outstanding leadership and total commitment they have made to Nebraska Medicine and UNMC during this exciting but challenging time of transition. They have fostered an environment of collaboration and striving to be the best for our patients, families , community and colleagues. This unwavering focus and leadership on improving the patient experience, quality / patient safety and teamwork have helped lay the foundation for the future of Nebraska Medicine.