Interview with MDO: Dr. KEvin Burlinson | OBHG

Every day, OBHG’s clinical and operational leadership teams support our hospitalists in their programs. The medical director of operations, regional vice president of operations, and director of hospital operations work to help ensure that programs run smoothly and facilitate hospitalists’ success.

Dr. Kevin Burlison is Medical Director of Operations for OBHG’s hospital programs in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

A Medical Director of Operations focuses on clinical operations, including clinical leadership, hospital relationships, new program launches, clinical strategic leadership, and business development support. Our MDOs help ensure the clinical teams are delivering quality programs that achieve both OBHG’s and the hospital’s clinical and operational objectives.

How long have you worked with OBHG and how have you seen the organization evolve?

I started with OBHG in 2014. Over the last five years, the company has grown and I’ve seen growth in technology and how we capture data. I remember filling out charge tickets on paper when we first started. Now we have more robust data collection through PatientKeeper and can take that data back to our hospital partners to show trends and help support our value to their community. 

What lessons has working in your current field taught you?

I’ve really enjoyed the hospitalist model of care, and it has allowed me to focus more on the care of the patient and the community. I have more of an appreciation of the care we provide for unassigned patients now, and see how our hospitalist model can improve safety and quality at our partner hospitals.

What do you see on the horizon in the field of OB/GYN or hospitalist medicine?

I think we are going to see more and more community physicians looking to us to provide inpatient care. Most of us who are working in the hospitalist model know how challenging a career in OB/GYN can be. Now those providers in the community are gaining trust in our clinicians and trust in our model of care, so they’re much more willing and likely to begin turning over inpatient care to us.

In addition, our hospital partners are recognizing that having a provider in-house, 24/7 really improves safety. Many of the hospitals’ zero-harm initiatives will continue to drive the separation of care as they try to control quality more. 

What are important ways that you think you can support our clinicians on the ground?

I really want our providers to find their work rewarding. Many of us who are in the hospitalist model found ourselves struggling to find that in our private practice work before we encountered the hospitalist model. My role is to help define the hospitalist expectations and job description to those providers who are searching that out.

Once they decide to join, my role switches to coach and I can help them through this transition to a hospitalist care model. It usually doesn’t happen overnight, so I work in a supportive role. It can take up to a year for them to transition.

Finally, I support our providers in the further development of their career and leadership skills. Sometimes [as MDOs] we even get to help them through the unexpected challenges that come up in their lives. I want them to feel appreciated and supported.

What are some of the challenges of that transition to a hospitalist role?

In the private practice model, our client is the patient. When we transition to a hospitalist role, the client becomes the hospital, the nursing staff, the patient and the administration. Now you must have service-mindedness and consider everyone involved. If the hospital comes up with a quality initiative, as the hospitalist team, we are often the first ones they come to try to implement those changes.

What do you love the most about what you do?

I think from the clinical side, I really enjoy being a part of patients’ lives because we all remember the day our children were born. I think for some patients, ours may be the only friendly face they see in a day. We may be able to support them through a challenging time or heartache.

From the management side, I enjoy seeing our providers find joy in their work again.

What is a challenge for you in your work?

I think the biggest challenge is managing through the constant change, but it is the nature of hospitalist medicine now. I think our specialty will continue to evolve, and we have to change and evolve with it.

For most of us, if we’re honest, we may not like change, but we must be continually engaged with our hospital partners and each other so we can continue to find solutions. Moving forward, we’ll have to be flexible, innovative, forward-thinking, so we can find those solutions.

Please tell us about your background.

I grew up in Louisiana and did all my education in Louisiana. My undergraduate degree is in Pharmacy and I worked full-time as a pharmacist for a year before attending medical school. After medical school, I moved to Missouri and worked in private practice there for 17 years before researching hospitalist medicine.

My family and I live in Florida. My wife Susan and I have seven children ages 16 to 26, and we also have two grandchildren.  

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I knew I wanted to do something in science and late in high school, I figured out I wanted to be a doctor. I interviewed some doctors and I must have encountered the ones that weren’t happy, because they discouraged me, so I went into pharmacy. Toward the end of my pharmacy training, however, when we were rounding with the medical students, I looked at them and said, ‘I want to do that.’

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my family. We do a lot of fishing and cooking. My wife is a phenomenal cook and I’m the outside cooking guy. We like to cook the fish we catch when we go in-shore or near-shore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. I also help out with church activities.

What would be your second career?

A drummer in a rock and roll band or maybe some type of ministry because I have a true passion for people. 

What is something that people might not know about you?

I’ve played the drums since I was in middle school. 

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