Employee Spotlight: Wayne Teris, MD, CPE, FAAFP, Chief Medical Officer

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Dr. Wayne Teris, Chief Medical Officer for Care Compass Network, recently received his Certified Physician Executive (CPE) credential from the American Association for Physician Leadership. He encourages others to do the same. Due to rapid shifts in the healthcare landscape, with the transition to value-based payment and emphasis on social determinants of health, Dr. Teris believes this training is more significant now than ever before. This is particularly relevant as the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated these changes, for example, by dramatically increasing the use of telemedicine.

“We’re seeing participation in the CPE program from a wide cross-section of physicians emerging as leaders within their organizations,” he shares. “Physicians are not necessarily trained for these roles in medical school and as we become more and more aware of the social determinants of health, we must collaborate and lead teams of professionals across the healthcare continuum performing together.”

Growing up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Dr. Teris was interested in science and biology from an early age. After college he worked at the National Institutes of Health then went on to medical school at the University of Pittsburgh. After his Family Medicine residency, he served as a military physician at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota and Langley AFB, Virginia. Upon completing his service, Dr. Teris chose to remain in Virginia working in the Emergency Department of Walter Reed Memorial Hospital for several years. Following his work in the ER, Dr. Teris moved to the Southern Tier in upstate New York to manage the first walk-in clinic for Associates in Medicine (the predecessor of the UHS Medical Group). “It was a great fit and an opportunity to start something from scratch,” explained Teris. “I stayed with that group for 27 years in a variety of roles including a decade practicing family medicine in Endicott.”

As his career went on, Dr. Teris began experiencing burnout which, he notes, is common among healthcare professionals. “In my case, I decided to take the time to catch up with technology. I earned a certification in Biomedical Informatics through the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine.“  In 2014 Dr. Teris became Physician Advisor, and subsequently Chief Medical Information Officer for Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and was part of the Technology Advisory sub-committee when Care Compass Network (CCN) was forming. When CCN needed someone on staff with both clinical and technological expertise, Dr. Teris officially joined the team.

Serving as Chief Medical Officer since 2017, Dr. Teris says no day is ever the same. “I like to call it a Switzerland role. I strive to encourage collaboration and am not tied to any one institution or organization.” Dr. Teris often visits partner organizations onsite, believing it’s important to see where people work and function. He consults with IT professionals, project managers, and people in technology development roles.

Dr. Teris recruited stakeholders to serve on the Primary Care Advisory Council, including physicians and nurse practitioners from across CCN’s 9-county region. The council meets monthly to discuss their needs and those of their patients while exchanging best practices and preparing for the new value-based payment model. “When we meet, no one is specifically focused on their own organization but instead committed to the overall success for healthcare in the greater community,” Teris explained.

In his role Dr. Teris talks with physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers, and anyone working with patients to address burnout. He has administered the Maslach survey – well known as an objective tool measuring workplace burnout issues. The initial survey, conducted in November of 2018, reported individual results back to each respondent and collective results to organization leaders. Once the leaders had a chance to review, the outcomes were then shared across the region. In response, Dr. Teris brought speakers who presented to all the senior leaders and provided a keynote address focused on burnout’s impacts on quality of healthcare and workforce turnover. He has plans to re-administer the survey later this year.

When asked to reflect on his time with CCN, Dr. Teris beamed. “This is the most enthusiastic, dedicated group I’ve ever worked with. I get up every morning and feel blessed to work here.”