Arise Rising: Jared Leger
“This is a time of rapid change in the healthcare industry,” says Jared Leger, a registered nurse who is now the co founder, managing partner and CEO of Arise Healthcare. “That demands changing our approach to delivering healthcare.”
By Jon Black, Photography by Steve DeMent
Leger is well placed to speak on the future of the healthcare industry. Austin Business Journal identified Arise as the 8th fastest growing company in the greater Austin area. Leger has been honored by Becker’s ASC Review, a prestigious healthcare industry news outlet, which named him a “Rising Star” (a list of 40 ambulatory surgery center industry leaders who are 40 years of age or younger) as well as naming him a “CEO to Know” for three years in a row.
Drawing on his industry expertise and personal experience, Leger sees both challenges and opportunities in the changing healthcare landscape. The challenges he cites include declining reimbursement rates for practitioners, a population that is both aging and growing and the systemic changes to healthcare resulting from implementation of the new healthcare law. The collective result of these challenges, he says, is “pressure on medical providers to do more with less.” Fortunately, he also highlights a variety of new opportunities for providers, such as emerging technologies, innovative ways to increase efficiency in healthcare as well as new ways to approach real estate.
“Arise is very aware of the challenges and opportunities inherent in today’s healthcare,” Leger says. “The patient must come first in any successful healthcare system, so we take a keen interest in anything that increases the physician’s ability to give their patients the best care possible.”
Leger helped build Arise from the ground up with these issues in mind. Co-founding Arise was the ultimate result of a journey taking him through both the clinical and business sides of modern healthcare. He began on the clinical side, as a registered nurse witnessing firsthand the stresses and realities of the operating room. He was tapped to move to the administrative side, where he quickly rose through the ranks. Gaining certification by the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association allowed him to learn the legal, HR and financial aspects of the industry.
In 2004, Leger was selected as Executive Director for Austin Pain Associates (APA) and the affiliated Stonegate Surgery Center, positions he held until 2009. After assisting in the sale of Stonegate for $25 million, Leger was approached by Dr. Rob Wills, founder of APA.
“He and I both firmly believed the ‘patient first’ philosophy,” Leger explains. Wills and Leger felt they could take their core philosophies and apply them to other areas of healthcare, notably outpatient surgery centers. Leveraging the $25 million from the sale of Stonegate, the two launched Arise Healthcare, which owns, manages and develops healthcare facilities and healthcare-related businesses.
Together, Leger and Wills defined the two reciprocal beliefs at the core of Arise. First, Arise believes that putting the needs of the patient first leads to a firm’s long-term financial health. Second, it believes the financial health of an organization is a direct indicator of what it can do to be better care for its patients. From there, the two recruited a team and worked out the practical implementation of those ideals.
As the rest of industry works to adapt to the face of modern healthcare, Leger believes they will embrace many of Arise’s core concepts. “What we all need to think about is how to deliver care in more efficient and cost effective ways that simultaneously assure quality patient care is delivered.”
He says it is important for the healthcare industry to understand the true nature of their work. “The poet Virgil said, ‘The greatest wealth is health.’ While Arise is a business, ultimately we’re in the businesses of helping others. The patients we take care of are people’s mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and children.”
Leger also feels that a rigid division between business and clinical sides of healthcare enterprises serves neither patients nor providers well. It is an observation strongly rooted in personal experience. His work as a nurse not only helped inspire him to co found Arise but have influenced the company’s design, structure and daily operations. As a result he feels that healthcare enterprises benefit from executives with medical backgrounds “My knowledge of the stresses, realities and terminology of clinical practice has been crucial to my success in the healthcare business arena,” he explains, a philosophy that extends to the leadership team at Arise. “We understand what our employees face because we’ve been in the trenches, too.”
With the financial pressures that physicians face today, Leger says that is essential that physicians have greater participation in the business side of operations, something strongly emphasized at Arise. “Neither aspect of the business is to be taken lightly,” he explains, “We focus on ways of delivering healthcare that are both economically and emotionally sensitive.”
Putting practitioners and former practitioners in leadership positions also has as a positive impact on employment. “We’re out to hire the best because we understand what that means for our organization. It also means employees know those running the business understand their concerns.” This attitude, combined with a great HR program, as at Arise, makes for a great place to work — and a great place to receive care.
Beyond his work, Leger spends his time with his wife and three daughters. He also enjoys hunting, especially with his brother. Leger is an active philanthropist, taking his commitment to quality healthcare for Austinites beyond Arise. He is a founding board member and volunteer for Chicon Pregnancy Resource Center (CPRC), which provides a multitude of pregnancy, parenting and lifestyle services and resources for patients free of charge. Leger’s role with CPRC includes recruiting and encouraging local doctors to provide medical services free of charge. He also assists with fundraising and is a contributor himself.
If Arise is responding to the changing healthcare landscape, numbers suggest that patients and practitioners alike are responding to Arise. From 2010 to 2012, its revenues blossomed more than 240%. Equally powerful testimony is offered by the future plans of Leger, the rising star. “I’m going to keep doing exactly what I’m doing,” he says.