Creighton president Daniel Hendrickson sits at a conference room table speaking to members of the GPEC staff.

Fireside Chat: Changing the ecosystem to make a big impact in your local market

Published: 02/06/2020
Updated: 02/28/2022

We may be a little biased, but it’s a great time to live in Greater Phoenix. According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, Phoenix was named the fastest growing city in the United States. Phoenix welcomed 25,288 new residents between 2017 and 2018, bringing the city to the top of the list. With these new residents brings new businesses, new jobs and new opportunities to grow our local ecosystems – which is something that our board member Father Daniel Hendrickson, president of Creighton University, is passionate about. 

We continued our Fireside Chats with Hendrickson to learn about how he is spearheading efforts for Creighton to help strengthen and grow the Greater Phoenix healthcare ecosystem with their new medical school expansion at Park Central in Midtown Phoenix. While Hendrickson shared many of Creighton’s current undertakings, they are relevant for any business leader looking to make a big impact in their local market. Below are a couple of valuable takeaways from his presentation.


You can’t give them what they want until you know what they need

Everyone loves a good problem solver and innovative solution. But, like many have experienced, what you think you’re providing a solution for may not be the solution needed. When entering any new market, it’s essential to pound the pavement and find out exactly what the community around you is looking for. It sounds simple enough, but what the community needs is a question that requires data and input to come to a clear answer. Take meetings with community leaders. Talk to people on the street. Look at the demographics and statistics. Dig out the need beneath the desire and determine how to meet it.

Hendrickson shared that before coming to Greater Phoenix he knew that our healthcare ecosystem already had a very healthy community and high-quality hospitals which can be proven by the 2019 National Health index. To contribute to the ecosystem, he connected with local leaders to discuss what it needed so that he could develop partnerships to contribute to the community in a meaningful way. He quickly learned that the Greater Phoenix community wanted increased and easy access to healthcare and an increased number of skilled medical specialists. 

Creighton put in the work to understand what was needed to offer easier access to healthcare. Starting back in 2009, Creighton partnered with St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center to establish the  Creighton School of Medicine in Greater Phoenix. Creighton is a leader in interprofessional education and developed a collaborative care approach to patient care. This approach is team-based and draws upon the shared experience of all of the health care professionals involved in the case; ensuring improved care for patients, decreases costs and increases the efficiency of the facility. In 2017, Creighton was able to eliminate the university hospital on its main campus in Omaha. They replaced the hospital with a clinic that still effectively served the same community while eliminating $4M of cost in the first year of operation. Hendrickson believes, thanks to their collaborative care approach, the same effects can be achieved in Greater Phoenix.

After putting in years of service, intertwining with the Greater Phoenix ecosystem, Creighton plans to open its $100 million state-of-the-art health science campus in Midtown Phoenix in 2021. Dignity Health’s St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Valleywise Health (formerly Maricopa Integrated Health System) and the District Medical Group have partnered with Creighton’s plans for Greater Phoenix. Why have they joined Creighton? Because Creighton will help fulfill the healthcare needs that Greater Phoenix has with the 886 students that will be trained every year at the new campus. These new experts will expose Greater Phoenix communities to high levels of healthcare and provide the specialists that the ecosystem needs, continuing to transform the face of healthcare in Arizona. 

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Ecosystem growth needs education and infrastructure 

A growing ecosystem requires many stakeholders working together to be healthy and collaborative. It requires established businesses, entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas, an educational system and a strong infrastructure to thrive. It’s easy to fall into the thinking that your business is all that is needed to attract the right people and help grow your market—but it’s not. A successful ecosystem needs to have enough structure to offer proper education and opportunities to keep new employees and students as permanent residents. 

Hendrickson is focused on helping our growing healthcare industry to further its staying power. According to the AAMC, 68 percent of all doctors end up staying where they were educated if they take a residency in the same geographic location, in Arizona that number is 75 percent. This very statistic is one reason why Creighton is placing the school in Phoenix—where they already send a large number of residents to St Joseph’s Hospital. By offering students education and local experience, in addition to being surrounded by world-renowned hospitals and quality medical professionals, it is the hope that students will graduate and continue to work and innovate in the Greater Phoenix healthcare ecosystem. 

Nothing is accomplished alone, join a habitat that supports innovation

None of this matters without the entrepreneurial spirit that drives all of the improvements and changes happening in Greater Phoenix. Hendrickson expressed his excitement about being a member of such a vibrant and future-focused market. “We want to be strategic with the city, with the Valley and even with the region and step up and help with healthcare education,” Hendrickson said. “We require the investment and involvement of those around us to be successful.” If you are an innovator or entrepreneur in healthcare or any other sector and desire to be part of the Greater Phoenix community that drives growing ecosystems to maturity engage with us here.

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