Patrick Boyle, president and CEO of Miller’s Health Systems, joined the company in 1984 immediately after graduating with a degree in Health Care Administration from Indiana University.
His journey at Miller’s has allowed him to serve in many capacities, but being adaptable is something he learned early on. While in college, Boyle lost his dad to cancer, causing him and his brother to have to work a multitude of jobs as students.
“I washed dishes at the General Motors plant in Anderson, shelved books in the school library in Bloomington, dipped ice cream at Baskin Robbins, and spent two summers as an intern at the State Prison in Pendleton,” providing quite the contrast in experiences, Boyle said. “I had quite a variety of jobs, but each one provided me with more understanding of different age groups, socioeconomic levels, and viewpoints – knowledge I would need and use in the years to come.”
Following college, Boyle started his career at Miller’s in operations as a licensed health facility administrator. He then spent eight years taking on different roles in five of Miller’s health care facilities, and later joined their corporate marketing division. In 1995, he became a regional vice president, and held that position until 2000 when he became the president and CEO.
“I learned many lessons along the way – from our leadership teams, our facility staff, and the tens of thousands of patients and families we served,” Boyle said.
In 2007, under Boyle’s leadership, Miller’s Health Systems created an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) to purchase the operating company from the Miller family, making it the second largest employee-owned health care company in the country.
Due to how the Miller family established the ESOP, no employee has to pay for their eligible stock – the company picks up the expense.
“I have the opportunity to lead a group of very talented leaders who are among the best at what they do,” Boyle said. “Together, we’re part of a workforce of nearly 3500 employee-owners around the state.”
A day in the life
If there’s anything routine about Boyle’s daily duties as president and CEO, it’s that there’s nothing routine about it.
One day he may be standing at a construction site going over details of a new addition to one of the therapy gyms; the next day he could be at the state capital meeting with state representatives, or in Washington meeting with Congress members about the challenges facing the health care industry.
The next day he could be visiting with patients, serving lunch to a hard-working group of employees who have received a deficiency-free survey from the Indiana State Department of Health, or simply sitting at his desk approving capital expenditures or answering emails. One thing he says is for certain, however, is that every day is different and challenging.
“There’s no denying that the post-acute world is challenging,” Boyle said. “Reimbursement cuts, employee shortages and rule changes can make it difficult as a provider and as a leader. However, caring for patients at the times when they need help the most, watching your employees grow personally and professionally, and helping families when they have no other options more than compensates for the daily headaches.”
Presently, one out of every six jobs is in the healthcare field, said Boyle, who suggests that those thinking about entering the post-acute arena try gaining exposure through job shadowing or working part time in the organization to decide if it’s an area to pursue.
“It is vital to try and understand the company’s culture,” he said. “Your personal values as a future leader need to be aligned with the core values of the company so that you can always be true to yourself. Most importantly, never stop growing personally and professionally, from the first day on the job until you reach your retirement and beyond.”
Learning from those who paved the way
While in college, Boyle completed two practicums/internships. His first was at Bloomington Hospital with CEO Bud Kohr.
“Bud was a great inspiration and he allowed me to work with different leaders inside the hospital. He made me feel like I was just as important as any other team member of the hospital. He taught me life lessons and I was fortunate to be one of his interns.
“The second Internship I had was at St. John’s Hospital in Anderson, Indiana. I was very blessed to do a practicum/internship with a sharp young supervisor who consistently looked for improvements in each division he was responsible for.”
Boyle also had professors in college who were influential in his success, two of which stand out in his memory: Dr. Terry Zollinger, professor emeritus at Fairbanks School of Public Health, and Dr. Frank Vilardo, associate professor emeritus at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
“Both professors were very encouraging and I appreciated the time they would spend with all of us when we had questions or sought advice about future jobs in our field. Even now, all these years later, I will hear these professors’ names and know that their impact is still present on campus.”
Throughout the last ten years, Boyle too, has paid it forward by serving as a guest lecturer to IUPUI students in the health administration classes. His advice to students and recent graduates pursuing a health administration career is what he’s continued to do since beginning his 36-year career.
“One of the principles I learned in college has become a core value throughout my entire career: being adaptable. Not all of your plans and events come together when you are an 18-year-old freshman, and that is true when you are a 57-year-old CEO. Some of your best plans just don’t materialize.
“Sometimes it is out of your control, such as when a new rule cuts government funding. Or maybe you’ve underestimated the depth of a situation and didn’t appropriate the needed resources. No matter the reason, you and your team have to adapt to what is in front of you… and own your results. Don’t get too high when you knock it out of the park or too low when you miss the mark – just stay hungry and attempt to improve each and every day.”