A good CEO is a good citizen

Miriam's Kitchen Research Homelessness & Financial State of Hospitals

By Robert Musslewhite

As the chief executive of one of the largest publicly traded companies headquartered in the District, I have set aggressive goals for 2015: driving greater impact for our customers in health care and higher education, expanding, building on our strong talent base — and ending chronic homelessness in the area.

Why would a for-profit organization pursue such a goal? Companies can’t afford not to.

The mission of my organization, the Advisory Board Co., is to make health care better, education smarter and communities stronger by working with health systems and universities around the world to help them serve their patients and students more effectively.

A critical goal of our health-care work is ensuring that hospitals become and remain financially healthy. This enables them to treat more patients and deliver better care, and building and sustaining a financially robust customer base is just good business. In this context, it was a simple decision to join our community partner, Miriam’s Kitchen, in its work to study the link between chronic homelessness and the financial state of hospitals.

Lacking reliable and affordable health care, the chronically homeless population generates enormous costs to hospitals through frequent use of unreimbursed services such as emergency department visits, inpatient care and ambulance rides. Numerous studies have illustrated this cost burden in cities across the country, but until recently no data have accurately quantified this impact in the District.

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