Rush University Medical Center expands community impact through impact investing (presentation series)

10 February 2020

by Andrew Garman

Andy is a professor in Rush University’s Health Systems Management department and CEO of the non-profit National Center for Healthcare Leadership. His work on leadership development and strategic foresight has been published in dozen peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and books including “The future of healthcare: Global trends worth watching” and “Exceptional Leadership: 16 critical competencies for healthcare executives”.
Patti is responsible for oversight of Rush University Medical Center’s cash management and $2.0 billion investment program across eight pools including operating/strategic cash, endowment, Master Retirement Trust, and medical malpractice trust. She additionally oversees the $630 million debt program for the Rush Obligated Group. She is vice president, assistant professor, chief investment officer and treasurer at Rush University Medical Center.

Patti and I presented on the topic, ‘Expanding Community Impact through Impact Investing: Experiences of Rush University Medical Center.’
In the United States, health systems represent almost 18% of the economy, and as ‘anchor institutions’, represent a significant source of resources to improve community health.

In our session, we described Rush’s experiences in leveraging its financial expertise and resources to strengthen the financial well-being of our employees as well as our communities facing health disparities.” 

Expanding community impact through impact investing

The presentation highlighted two programs in particular that Rush University Medical Center has pursued. The first program focused on the financial wellness of its own employees.  In particular, internal analyses concluded that lower-wage employees were experiencing significant barriers to financial well-being, including: twice the frequency of hardship borrowing and wage garnishments; twice the likelihood of being below the upper match threshold for retirement savings; and 40% greater likelihood of having no retirement savings.
The financial program included four activities:
(1)   expanding retirement resources for employees from low-resource communities using the behavioral economic technique of auto-escalation;
(2)   implementation of a grant-funded program to help 800 employees build personal credit;
(3)   a one-on-one financial counseling service provided through partnership with a community bank, and;
(4)   implementation of a payroll card.

”These interventions so far have resulted in, among other benefits, a 5% reduction in wage garnishments and a 27% increase in reaching targeted retirement savings rate.” 

The second program involved reinvisioning Rush’s investment portfolio as a source not only of working capital for the e-health system, but also as source of support for projects that can build community health.  To achieve this goal, Rush University Medical Center partnered with two outside firms that specialize in ‘impact investing’ projects and committed $2 million USD toward these projects.  While the results of these investments will take several years to come to fruition, at this stage we were able to share the pro forma return on investment analyses conducted to support the decision to move forward with this strategy.

Sharing our story at the IHF World Hospital Congress

”We had a wonderful experience throughout the conference. Sessions were very well organized and thoughtfully presented, and we both left amazed at the diversity of challenges and innovative solutions being pursued all over the world!”

The breaks and social events also offered many opportunities to meet new people and learn more about their work. We made a number of connections with people who were interested in what we had to share, and now have an international network of professionals we can continue to compare notes with. I am hoping to present with some of our new colleagues as part of a panel at next year’s conference!

The call for abstracts for the 44th IHF World Hospital Congress has been extended until 14 February, 2020 (23:59 UTC-11).
The scientific committee, chaired by Prof. Antoni Trilla, MD, PhD, MSc, Dean of the University of Barcelona Medical and  Health Sciences School,  encourages authors who have not submitted their abstracts to catch the deadline and not miss this huge opportunity to contribute their important work to the global knowledge base of the healthcare industry.
Presentations, lectures and scientific posters will address the overarching theme People on board, transforming healthcare (Future is now), guided by the following sub-themes:

  • Digital and technology driven transformations
  • Towards an integrated concept of health and care services model: value driven transformations
  • People at the center of healthcare system transformations