Meet the Team: Katie Reilley

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Katie Reilley, Ascendient senior managing consultant, with her husband and two young sons

Meet the Team is our blog series introducing some of the amazing professionals at Ascendient – who they are and what makes them tick. This month, meet Katie Reilley, a senior managing consultant who joined the team in May 2021.

You studied neuroscience as an undergrad before going back to Johns Hopkins for a Master of Health Science degree. Where did you get your interest in healthcare as a career?

Like many who have paths similar to mine, I knew I wanted a career that allowed me to help people and initially planned to attend medical school. Two things happened that changed that plan for me:

First, I took a few years off between my undergraduate and graduate programs and did research. I stumbled into a job working with researchers affiliated with the Dartmouth Masters in Public Health (MPH) program and discovered a whole other side of healthcare – impacting health at a systems level. The opportunity to make a broader impact really appealed to me.

Secondly, I actually got accepted to medical school while working in strategic decision support for a big AMC and realized I LOVED what I was doing and didn’t want to make a change. I am a huge data nerd and found that the combination of big data and systems-level healthcare work satisfied my intellectual curiosity and desire to help others.

Before joining Ascendient, you worked at academic medical centers for nearly a decade, plus you have three years’ experience at a community hospital. What’s been the biggest eye-opener for you in terms of the financial or operational challenges facing community hospitals versus the big AMCs?

In so many ways, the challenges are really not that different right now. Staffing and the associated financial challenges are probably at the top of every hospital administrator’s mind regardless of setting. Challenges aside, the biggest differences I’ve experienced are around the focus of service offerings in a community versus AMC setting, and the sophistication of the available systems, data, and reporting.

And what about the difference working in-house versus consulting? What attracted you to a consulting career … and has it panned out as expected?

Shifting to consulting gave me the opportunity to observe a much broader range of providers and think more globally and creatively. We are also constantly learning in this work, which is such an appealing element of a career for me. I didn’t expect some of the cultural changes that I experienced by shifting to consulting – our meetings are much more focused, we are more structured in our approach to time management, and we have a uniformly mission-oriented culture. To me, these changes are a huge, unexpected bonus. I am incredibly thankful for my prior experience, but I have no regrets about the switch!

Ascendient tries to be a purpose-driven, values-based organization. How do you see that playing out in your day-to-day work (if at all)?

Our values are core to everything we do and are fully a part of my day-to-day work. I would need more than a blog post to describe all the ways they manifest in our work, but I’ll highlight some of the key components:

  • Katie Reilley, Ascendient senior managing consultant, in a white blouse with blue jacketPurpose: I have never worked for an organization with a stronger sense of mission than Ascendient. We are all passionate about transforming healthcare, and we think about making healthcare better every single day. This purpose is foundational to not just the work we do, but our culture as a workplace.
  • Excellence: The work product we generate for clients is held to the highest standard. We are passionate about ensuring our work is not just good, but exceptional. We spend a tremendous amount of time and energy to deliver the best possible work. As a manager, I consider it a core responsibility of mine to ensure that the team working on our projects is well-trained, analytically savvy, and has a clear understanding of the goals of the work.
  • Relationships: Similar to “Excellence,” this value is a key part of my role as a manager. I strive to ensure that all members of our team are elevated to achieve optimal career success. I am only an effective manager if our team reaches a point of being able to independently develop high quality work product and achieve professional development goals. To facilitate this, we need to have open, direct communication and respectful, strong relationships with each other.
  • Integrity: Our team huddles every morning to touch base about work for the day and ensure barriers are addressed readily. We use this to ensure transparency and accountability with one another, which in turn ensures we are achieving our goals for our clients. Our credibility with clients is a core expectation of our work and is infused into all of our communications and deliverables.

What about outside of work? How do you relax and re-center?

I am a total extrovert and re-charge by connecting with others. I recently returned from a trip to Costa Rica with a few friends, which represents my ideal way to relax. I spend a lot of time with my two sons, who are in elementary school, and am regularly hosting playdates, friends, and family. I am also re-charged by the outdoors and love gardening, hiking, dining on my porch … anything that puts me under the sun!

And finally, our standard exit question: If you could solve one issue in the US healthcare system that would have the greatest impact, what would that be?

I would develop a system with a more balanced approach to regulation among the different participants in the healthcare market. The burden of regulation falls heavily on providers and provider organizations, which I believe is driving the financial and operational pressure that so many provider organizations are currently experiencing.

If money were no object, I’d also love to see the industry revolutionize the “social contract” between employers and employees to incentivize growth of the workforce and longevity in employment. As our population ages and healthcare demand increases, this is a critical need.


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