Emily LaFeir Fry, M.H.A., vice president of innovation operations at the Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, a regional healthcare provider and health plan, is one of the 10 up-and-coming healthcare leaders featured in the annual Managed Healthcare Executive feature.
Emily LaFeir Fry, M.H.A.
I grew up in the Detroit suburbs. I earned a B.S. in health policy and administration and a master’s degree in healthcare administration and management, both from Pennsylvania State University.
My brothers, who are both computer engineers, taught me about the power of technology. A former colleague was instrumental in teaching me about systems architecture and gave me confidence to use my healthcare expertise embedded with technology.
However, I’ve found that the lessons I’ve learned on the job during my career and my roles in innovation have been the most impactful professionally. The opportunity to work with a variety of leaders and be exposed to strategic decision-making from early on in my career has been invaluable for my growth.
After starting my career in a front desk staff position at Beaumont Health in Troy, Michigan, I knew I wanted to pursue a long-term career in healthcare. I’ve surrounded myself with experts and contribute value by providing operational perspective and being a voice for clinicians.
In addition to leading my team at Geisinger, one of the most important leadership highlights of my career has been working to find ways to get fresh produce into food deserts, such as within corner store markets for underserved populations. Experiences like that remind me to always give back and hold such gratitude for everything that I have. It was a humbling experience.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in healthcare?
I always knew that I wanted a career that allowed me to give back to my community. I love helping people and learning about the science behind the human body. Understanding all of the aspects of healthcare motivates me.
Which career accomplishment are you proudest of and why?
I’m most proud of building the Intelligent Automation Hub at the Geisinger Steele Institute for Health Innovation. Supporting Geisinger’s strategic priorities, our business architects and developers collaborate across the organization to help deliver automated solutions that create better business outcomes and an improved patient and employee experience.
Adding layers of intelligence to our processes with enhanced automation frees our employees to do higher-value work, which better uses their skills. This translates to better care for our patients.
Intelligent process automation technology provides employees — including nontechnical ones — the tools to configure their own software robots, chatbots and conversational AI (artificial intelligence) to solve redundant processes. By partnering with the automation team, Geisinger employees can even create their own virtual business assistant, or “bot,” to complete tedious tasks.
It’s the most challenging job I’ve ever had, but it’s the most rewarding experience. I led the creation of a completely new team and infrastructure to run the hub. Over the past two years, I’ve witnessed how my team is making a difference through (COVID-19) and the power of digital capabilities to improve outcomes.
What is the most challenging part of your current position?
The change management aspect of creating meaningful change, not just through technology but through implementing new ways of working and educating teams. Guiding change in an environment while also steering the ship in the right direction is challenging but fulfilling when implemented correctly.
What is your organization doing to address healthcare equity?
Geisinger has always been committed to healthcare equity but recently increased its efforts by hiring additional executive leadership and focusing a team on several areas including our data disparities and cognizance of the digital divides among our populations.
If you could change one thing in U.S. healthcare, what would it be?
If I had a magic wand, I would change our payment incentives and model for financing healthcare.
How do you avoid burnout?
I prioritize family first. Rooting myself back to my family keeps me grounded. This prevents me from prioritizing work over everything else and getting burned out. My family and I are avid hikers and climbers; we love to be outdoors and enjoy the quiet and slowness of nature outside our fast-paced lives.