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Chief Physician Executive, MUSC Physicians, Eugene S. Hong, M.D.

Eugene Hong, M.D.

Dr. Hong began as the new Chief Physician Executive for MUSC Physicians and MUSC Health in March. In this position, he oversees the practice plan and serves as a senior leader in the health system. Hong is a leading authority on concussions, cardiac issues in athletes, overuse injuries and sports-injury prevention and has worked for decades as a team physician. He comes to MUSC from Drexel University in Philadelphia, where he was an endowed chair and professor in the Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine. He also served as chief of the division of primary care sports medicine, chair of the Drexel University Physician Board and associate dean for primary care and community health.

“My number one, two and three initial plans for addressing these challenges are to listen, listen and listen.”

Hong says the major strength of any practice plan is the people — not just the physicians, but also the administrators, the staff and everybody who helps deliver patient care, train the next generation of health care providers and advance scholarship. Some of the challenges being faced by MUSC are similar to those faced by other health care organizations — alignment and engagement. Engagement is a challenge facing many academic medical centers (AMCs). It is very important to address physician morale and wellness at a systems level.

He says some of the things that attracted him to MUSC are the things MUSC is already doing, such as its ICCE clinical service line structure and forming an Accountable Care Organization. “That’s very progressive for an AMC.”

Drexel created an ACO, forming a partnership between the hospital and the academic physician group. Payment reform was happening, and leadership tried to prepare for what they thought was coming down the pike. Over the past five years, this ongoing effort has brought $3.8 million into the academic practice plan. It’s about building sustainable change, something that’s not easy to do in big organizations. “This experience taught me the importance of working collaboratively,” Hong says. “A lesson that will serve me in my new position.”

A key component for growth in an AMC is what he calls “academic entrepreneurship.” It’s really thinking like an entrepreneur in an academic health system setting. It means identifying opportunities, developing and initiating strategies and taking calculated risks. The goal is to create value, and specifically overage, that can then be invested back into the enterprise.