By Matthew Kredell
Daniel Skarzynski (MHA 2014) has helped launch an out-of-the-box plan to improve efficiencies for the Emergency Department, improve care delivery, and achieve a greater organizational reach in the region to achieve the goal of “caring for more children” at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. The plan itself is more like, out of the hospital.
In his previous capacity as Manager-Operations, Emergency Services and Inter-Facility Transport, the USC Price Master of Health Administration alumnus put in place the Lurie Children’s Mobile Health Program.
Launching the program in October 2019, the mobile unit provides a rolling clinic that serves targeted areas of interest for Lurie based on their global community health needs assessment. The service itself, in its first wave, staffed with a Physician or Advanced Practice Provider (APP), provides primary care type services and vaccinations to children in their local community, all funded philanthropically through Lurie Children’s Healthy Communities.
“With market dynamics and shifts we are seeing, there is over-utilization in the Emergency Department. This is not just a local phenomenon, but is seen nationwide, largely attributed to be primary care related concerns,” Skarzynski said. “We asked why and identifying a multitude of access issues, discomfort going to healthcare systems, or the need to better provide services locally in the community, we wanted to bring our resources to the patient.”
The mobile unit combines his experience working as an EMT during his undergraduate studies at Marquette University with his role of improving efficiencies and operations in Emergency Medicine. MedEx Ambulance, the service that partners with Lurie for Critical Care Transport assisted to provide the first vehicle for the program.
Lurie also has partnered with the Chicago Public School system to help identify children in need and bring the resource offerings of the health system to the local schools.
“In the broader context of mobile care, another key component is that the market is shifting to convenience – on-demand services, Uber and Amazon,” Skarzynski said. “The way younger mothers or fathers demand service now is different from previous generations. We recognized it’s an attractive option to patients and families. Our goal is to continue to care for more children in the City of Chicago and this program helps us achieve that mission. We will continue to evaluate the unique needs of our population in an evolving healthcare market.”
Skarzynski grew up in Chicago around the healthcare business. His father is an Interventional Cardiologist.
Completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Skarzynski was attracted to the economic focus at the MHA program at USC Price through the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics.
“Many of my professors in the MHA program at USC Price were also practicing healthcare executives,” Skarzynski said. “They didn’t just teach theory-based classes but provided real examples of healthcare issues they were facing. I felt that, rather than being book-based, they brought reality into the classroom.”
Before completing his degree in 2014, he first began working in children’s health as an administrative resident at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
“USC really offered an opportunity to work practically in Administrative Residency with a lot of great systems in Southern California,” Skarzynski said. “USC accelerated my ability to be in an environment that really enabled a lot of learning and personal growth.”
In October, he began in a new role as Executive Director of Lurie Children’s Surgical Foundation, Lurie Children’s surgical group, comprised of approximately 80 surgeons across 8 surgical divisions. While outside of the ER, he will still keep an eye on the mobile health program he helped launch.
After the pilot year ends with the program, Skarzynski wants to look for ways to scale with a larger vehicle or additional smaller vehicles that can navigate the streets of Chicago.
“As the city evolves, neighborhoods change – particularly those that may be underserved and under-resourced,” Skarzynski said. “The mobile program is great to cover much more geographic reach with the same resources, rather than putting down capital in each of those different areas as they arise.”
To scale the program, Skarzynski wants to lobby for state-level payment reform to allow for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reimburse mobile care.
“In order to do that, we need to prove value with lives touched, immunizations given and kids screened who would otherwise not be screened,” Skarzynski said.