As the leading pediatric health system on Florida’s west coast, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital plays a vital role in the community. Embracing that commitment, the hospital chose Mark Douglas “Doug” Baker, M.D., for the new role of chief of population health.
Baker’s mission is to assess the community’s pediatric health care needs and align the hospital’s resources to meet them, including advocating on behalf of children and forming alliances with government bodies and other entities. Johns Hopkins All Children’s has 11 Outpatient Care Centers in six counties and collaborations with hospitals such as Brandon Regional Hospital, Florida Hospital Tampa and Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
“We are focused on value over volume and want to enhance the kind of care we deliver to our families,” explains Jonathan Ellen, M.D., president and CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and vice dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We already have multiple venues of care throughout our Outpatient Care Centers and across the region at affiliate hospitals. We’re also working with government agencies, lawmakers and other community entities. Now, Dr. Baker will help us look at all aspects of care for kids, specifically focusing on resources needed and how our health system can collaborate with others to help improve health conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, that affect large populations of children in our community and beyond.”
Along with value over volume, key elements of population health are being proactive to treat the individual rather than the disease and providing patients in a community access to the services they need. Baker will look for patterns of health needs in different populations and seek the most efficient ways to meet them. The most acute cases may need to come to the main hospital in St. Petersburg, but other care may be provided through a specialty clinic in an Outpatient Care Center or through an affiliation with another hospital.
“At the end of the day, the patient is our universe,” Baker explains. “What are we doing to meet their needs?”
Baker joins Johns Hopkins All Children’s with more than three decades of experience in emergency medicine, most recently at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Maryland, which gave him a unique perspective on patient-centered care.
“In emergency medicine, I have a one-time exposure to each child, and it is my duty to link them to the right physician to meet their needs," he explains. "My daily experiences in the emergency department led me to think more globally about matching the right resources to meet patient needs, which is basically what population health is.
“Are we offering the smoothest transition for this child? Are we taking into account the distance this family must travel? Are there services this child needs that we don’t yet offer? Value is that marriage of resources and needs in a responsible manner. Minimizing duplication, minimizing cost of care, creating a lean health care machine that isn’t sacrificing quality for the patient.”
Baker, who also serves as assistant dean for Johns Hopkins All Children’s faculty, is starting off by looking at the entire system for areas of improvement.
He arrived in August to St. Petersburg with his family. His youngest daughter just started at Shorecrest
Preparatory School and his wife, a pediatrician, is an international adoption specialist. “We call ourselves an international family,” he explains. Baker has two adopted siblings: Greek and Vietnamese and his youngest daughter is Chinese. With four children, three grown, Baker considers himself a “consumer” of the health care system and knows that this gives him yet another perspective of the benefits of population health.
“Doug is the ideal candidate for our new program,” explains George Jallo, M.D., director of the Institute for Brain Protection Sciences. Jallo, a world-renowned neurosurgeon, worked with Baker on the Baltimore campus for years before transferring to St. Petersburg. “Doug is a natural leader with a practical and analytical mind to lead the program. His experience in the emergency center and managing children in the acute setting, gives him the skills and knowledge to understand children’s needs in our community and region and how we can align and integrate our services to meet those needs.
At the end of the day, it is all about improving outcomes and solidifying the best care for the patients.