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Philadelphia CEO Says To Trust Your Team, Setbacks Are Inevitable

Robert Q. Kreider is the president and CEO of Devereux, a nonprofit company that provides behavioral healthcare to families, schools and communities across the nation. Devereux helps individuals with developmental disabilities such as autism and mental health challenges lead a fulfilling life.

(Photo Courtesy of Robert Q. Kreider)

Can you describe your duties as a health care administrator?

"My primary focus is delivering on our mission—to change lives and unlock human potential—by providing excellent services today in a manner which is sustainable over time, and which serves as an example within our industry. My energies are directed toward engagement with our stakeholders: families, customers, payers, the Board of Trustees, employees, and donors in order to understand and address their needs. This involves working closely with my management team and with the Board of Trustees in order to establish and set strategic and tactical targets that move the organization forward."

How has education prepared you for your career in health care administration?

"As an undergraduate and graduate student, I studied management science and economics. Both disciplines involve creating simplified models of real-world situations. If you change the rules of the model, you change the answers. I think this approach to problem solving helps in a rapidly changing environment like health care. Following that, I attended law school, which takes a different intellectual approach. Rather than trying to solve a complex issue, lawyers build a case, evaluate the quality of evidence, and take the position of devil's advocate in order to test for areas of vulnerability. All the important problems we face in health care are often too complex to solve, so this legal approach is quite helpful."

What continued education is required for your role?

"By far, the most important part of continuing education for me is keeping up with the impact of enormous changes to the field. We're witnessing changes in science, pharmacology, the collection and utilization of information, and diagnostic and therapeutic tools and their impact on best practices and public policy. A large part of what is required is for me and my team is to keep pace with the evolving industry and adapt to innovations every day."

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

"A commitment to lifelong learning and change is essential. Due to the rapid changes in the industry, health care executives must keep one foot in the present, and one in the future. We must understand today's rules, yet anticipate the impact of future changes to payment methodology, integrated care, and personalized medicine. Specifically to Devereux, a dramatic shift in our field is taking place surrounding our basic understanding of the brain. I believe the key to success is emotional regulation and humility. You are never as good as you think you are, and you are never as bad as you think you are. Mistakes will be made—the challenges our industry faces are complex and ever evolving. Maintaining discipline and an analytic approach are important; you must trust that despite setbacks, your approach, and your team will be successful in the long run."

Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. She reports on various topics such as: Social Media, Local Events, Entertainment, Food and Drink and more. Her work can be found at

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