VHA's Rae Reynolds--
Dynamic Director Oversees Members Services
Written by John Fries
a health system or health care alliance is formed, member hospitals
generally enjoy a number of benefits. For the alliance providing the
advantages, there are challenges as well. Most important is the need
to ensure that members are realizing the intended benefits and are
satisfied with them.
In the case of VHA Pennsylvania, we're talking about 42 hospitals
of varying sizes spread across two state--Pennsylvania and West Virginia--so
monitoring and accountability becomes a pretty major responsibility.
Fortunately, Rae Reynolds, one of VHA's directors of market management
and member services, is available to make sure that everything continues
to run smoothly. It nearly always does, thanks to Reynolds, who has
served in her current capacity since moving to Pittsburgh from York,
Pennsylvania four years ago.
The Pittsburgh resident attributes her success to her ability to effectively
build and grow relationships and provide excellent customer service.
"Relationships mean everything," said the affable Reynolds during
a recent conversation. By her estimate, she spends nearly 80 percent
of her time developing and nurturing relationships between VHA and
its member hospitals (with the other 20 percent spent on studying
the health care market, customer service recovery, and trouble shooting).
She interacts with the hospitals' senior executive teams and VHA business
suppliers, and is always looking for ways to serve VHA members' needs,
contain their costs, and create efficiencies from a non-supply chain
She said the best way to help VHA's members is to "place them first,
and provide the best member satisfaction possible." That includes
listening to their issues, linking them to VHA services, and ensuring
they receive the satisfaction they deserve.
"At VHA Pennsylvania," she said, "we utilize the concept of 'Mass
Customization' in which we plan, develop, and offer services based
on each of our members' unique needs. Mass customization takes a bit
more time, but we find our members appreciate this approach. In today's
challenging health care market, hospitals are very focused on accomplishing
their goals. My job is to support them in accomplishing those goals."
Reynolds is experienced in this arena. Prior to coming to VHA, she
worked for the Wellspan Health System in York, PA, setting up and
managing physician practices. Given all the issues that have been
nagging the medical community over the past several years, including
the ongoing struggle with rising malpractice insurance premiums, there's
been a rapid growth in the number of physician management organizations.
This allows doctors to concentrate on practicing medicine, while leaving
the business arrangements in someone else’s capable hands.
It's a very demanding situation, and one in which Reynolds excelled.
The experience of handling physicians' business needs prepared her
well for her role at VHA.
"At Wellspan," she said, "my position was very operational. At VHA,
it's much more about relationship building, a continual process that
requires time and patience. It took me a while to develop the patience
part of it," she says with a laugh.
After accepting the offer to join VHA, Reynolds also had to adjust
to not only working in a different part of the state, but to working
with different hospitals, all of which have their own personalities.
"It would be great if health care executives would collaborate even
more than they currently do. I'm trying to bring them closer together,"
Reynolds, who was born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, earned a
bachelor's degree in psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, and
a master's in Health Services Administration from The University of
Michigan's School of Public Health.
For many people, attaining a master's degree is academic achievement
enough, but not Reynolds. On the personal side, she recently pursued--and
earned--a diploma in neuromuscular massage therapy from the Pittsburgh
School of Massage Therapy. This makes her a health care administrator
by day, and a health care provider with a small clientele in her free
One of the ways Reynolds unwinds is by learning new and interesting
things. She greatly enjoys taking a diverse variety of classes for
fun and personal enrichment, and on many a weekday evening, she can
be found at Community College's Allegheny campus in the pursuit of
such avocations as swimming, cooking, acting, home repairs and real
She's also an avid fan of the theater, regularly attending productions
at City Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theater and Kuntu Repertory Theater.
Her community service work includes being a Big Sister in the Big
Brother Big Sisters of Pittsburgh and holding office as Secretary
for the Urban League's Young Professionals of Pittsburgh.
At VHA, her goals include increasing the cohesiveness among member
hospitals and finding new ways for them to work together, so they're
individually more efficient.
them do this through such support mechanisms as councils, task forces,
collaborative initiatives, and more," she said. All of which is administered
and coordinated by the very dynamic Rae Reynolds.