Dr. Paul DeChant, MD, MBA is an experienced physician executive, C-suite coach, and expert on physician burnout with a proven approach to identify, treat, and prevent burnout in yourself and your organization. Dr. DeChant can help your organization reduce the risk of physician burnout through Lean Transformation, which he has helped several professional medical organizations implement with ongoing positive results. Dr. DeChant is also available to consult on a variety of matters related to running a medical organization, including:
- medical group leadership coaching,
- medical group mergers / acquisitions,
- physician engagement,
- EHR optimization, and
- physician compensation plans.
Why I Do What I Do:
My 30 years’ experience as a practicing family physician and a physician executive leader in large healthcare systems led me to my passion for returning joy to patient care through Lean transformation.
I’ve felt the pain of frustrated patients, overworked providers, and stressed leaders. We have designed provider organizations with the perfect recipe for burnout. In fact, burnout has reached crisis proportions. The good news is that we have great potential to improve the care experience for patients, care givers, and administrators alike.
The key lies in the power of Lean management to transform the organization’s culture. Lean is about removing waste and defects from workflow processes. But most important is the way it accomplishes this, harnessing the power of continuous improvement and respect for people to empower those on the front lines to identify and fix problems in real time. Ultimately, physicians have more time to focus both on their patients in clinical settings and their family and friends at home.
Trusting the people who do the work to fix the problems requires a different role for administration. Leaders must learn to change themselves, from the heroes who rush in to resolve a crisis, to coaches and mentors who support their workers with the resources and mentoring needed to become great problem solvers.
I personally experienced this change as the CEO of Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, a 300-physician multispecialty medical group in California’s Central Valley. During my five years as its leader, partnering with great physician and non-physician leaders, and coached by Simpler Lean sensei, we transformed our management system and culture. The care experience improved for patients, staff, and providers. As a result, we were recognized by Consumer Reports as the highest rated medical group in California two years in a row.
In short, Lean works.
I was drawn to Family Medicine because of its focus on both treatment and prevention. I am drawn to Lean management because, done right, it has the power not only to treat caregiver burnout, but to prevent it by addressing its root causes.
If you share my passion for returning joy to patient care I hope that you will find value in this website. Feel free to reach out to me with your thoughts.
Born in the Bronx, I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (through eight grade) and Portland, Oregon (high school through medical school – Oregon Health Sciences University). During my family medicine residency in Greeley, Colorado, I met my wife, Bonnie, who at the time was an OR nurse.
Following a year as an ER physician in a small town on Colorado’s Front Range, Bonnie and I moved to Fremont, California. There I joined the Palo Alto Medical Clinic and was one of the initial four physicians who started up PAMC’s first satellite office. In my nine years there, I became the medical director during a period of rapid growth, served as FM Department Chair at our local community hospital, started a clinic in the local homeless shelter, and was elected to the Board of Directors of the 160-physician Palo Alto Medical Clinic.
Attending an American College of Physician Executives (now the AAPL) management training course, I was offered the opportunity to return to Colorado and practice in the ski resort of Breckenridge. My wife and I moved our two young daughters to the mountains, where I became the second of a two-physician private practice, serving as a family doctor in a town of 5000 and as an ER doctor at the base of the ski hill.
During eight years in Breckenridge, I led the merger of five private practices into a 30-provider multispecialty group, High Country Health Care. Recognizing I had the opportunity to further develop as a physician executive, I also pursued an MBA at the University of Colorado, Denver.
After earning my MBA in Health Administration at the University of Colorado, I was offered the opportunity to join the Geisinger Health System in a physician executive leadership role. In my four years there, I turned around a struggling department of 20 physicians in Lewistown, PA, chaired the compensation committee for Geisinger’s 200-physician Community Practice Division, and initiated Geisinger’s Epic Optimization Committee.
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation then asked me to return to the San Francisco Bay Area to develop new clinical offices in the East Bay communities of Castro Valley and Dublin. In four years I designed new facilities, recruited physicians and a management team, and initiated a lean management system and culture. I also facilitated the merger of the three major medical groups under the PAMF umbrella into a single group of 800 physicians.
Following this work, I was chosen to serve as the CEO for the Sutter Gould Medical Foundation. Over my five years as a physician executive in that role, I led a transformation of Gould, through Lean management and using Simpler Healthcare as our guide. On this journey I was fortunate to have the support of great colleagues who embodied servant leadership, living by the principles of continuous improvement and respect for people.
Now I work as a senior advisor with Simpler Healthcare, an IBM Watson Health affiliate, providing executive coaching to health care leaders pursuing Lean transformations in their organizations and providing thought leadership on clinical operations and innovation.